(Roxx Records)

Multi-national band Vultures Gathering are a bit of a supergroup, featuring vocalist Chaz Bond (Jacobs Dream, Biogenesis), guitarist Ryan Roebuck (Motivik, Ritual Servant), and guitarist Andre Chiang (Necromanicide) from Malaysia.  Chiang also performs bass and drum duty on the album.  I assume this is a studio-only project, given their international status, but I suppose time will tell.

While The Hunt is essentially power metal, it also has elements of traditional heavy metal, thrash, and even some death metal, though it doesn’t ever fall fully into any of those camps.  The songs are heavy, but melodic, mid-paced, and feature the occasional scream.

The first things you’ll notice upon listening are competent musicianship, clean production, and heavy, heavy, heavy, . . . . well, you get the picture.  Bond’s vocals fit the music well, although they might take some time getting used to if you’re not used that melodic-yet-gruff vocal approach.  While each of the band members are well-versed in their respective crafts, at times the project feels the weight of being a studio project from distant members.  It’s not that they’re not tight musically, or even  together.  It’s just that it feels a tiny bit disjointed at times—as if the band members are not sitting in the room together writing and playing.  That’s, of course, because they’re not.  Nonetheless, this is one of those releases that gets better each time you listen to it.

Let’s consider a few highlights from the album, shall we?  “At First Sight” is super heavy, with layered riffs on top of riffs and Bond’s signature crooning juxtaposed with some occasional thrashy singing.  “False Crown,” the longest song on the album at 8:57, raises the bar by adding some high-pitched wailing from Bond.  We’re starting to catch a glimpse too of the band’s formula—ultra-heavy, crunchy rhythm guitars underneath a more melodic guitar riff.  While that may sound basic, there’s something about the way VG does it that makes it sound unique to my ears.  The rhythm guitars (from Chiang) are what brings the thrash/death vibe, while the melodic leads of Roebuck paired with Bond’s vocals keep them securely in the power metal realm.  There’s also some occasional, very effective use of keys to add a little atmosphere to the sound.

The title track comes third on the disc, and here we see the band at their thrashiest in terms of the rhythm guitars, ironically juxtaposed with a synthesized string section reminiscent of the opening track “Re-Inception” from Grave Decay’s From Dust to Dust album from 2018.  The track also reminds me a tiny bit of Megadeth.  “In Paradise” slows the pace down again, but with a very satisfying crunch in the rhythm section.  The track centers on the thief on the cross and his final plea:

Please remember me

When you come into your kingdom

Please remember me!

During my second or third listen, I noticed some very familiar lyrics that I hadn’t noticed the first time around:

We have plastic

We have metal

We have oil

We have steel

We have food stuffed in our bellies

And we’re big on sex appeal

Wait!  Those are Bloodgood lyrics from “America” (from their Out of the Darkness album).  Vultures’ version is very different from the original 1989 version, and yet it’s a true re-working of the classic.  However, I was surprised to see that the track was not credited to Bloodgood in the liner notes.  Was that just an oversight, or a complication of copyrighting?  Thankfully, they do acknowledge the original on the band’s Bandcamp page.

Album closer “Truth Be Told” again employs a layered vocal approach: Bond’s high-pitched wail layered over the top of his baritone line.  This track also gets close to thrash tempos—close but not all the way there.

This is a good power metal release overall, and a welcome addition to Christian metal.

My rating: 3.5/5

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