Huntsmen will release their new album Mandala of Fear via Prosthetic Records on 13 March. Whilst storytelling has been – and remains – at the core of all that Huntsmen is, they continue to dissolve the boundaries between metal and the more traditional modes of folk and country. Americana-metal still rings true as a descriptor, from the opening bars through to the denouement of the album a full 85 minutes later. With sparkling, yearning highs speaking of vulnerability and hope, and bleak, soul crushing lows groaning a dirge of isolation and despair, Mandala of Fear marries melody and progressive elements to create an undulating foundation to layer its dystopian missive on atop.

We asked drummer and vocalist Ray Knipe to give us 3 examples of records that have influenced his musical career. Ray mentions: “Music has always been the only thing that ever made sense to me, and it was music that shaped me into who I was and am today. So I picked 3 albums from different points in my life that really changed the direction I was going and made a big impact.” Read more here….

Converge – Jane Doe

The first album that changed my trajectory was Jane Doe by Converge. When this album came out, I was heavy under the influence of punk and hardcore, listening to bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks etc. At an even younger age I loved classic metal like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Slayer and Motörhead so I liked metal, but I really just liked the more abrasive, fast and furious styles that punk had to offer. Then I heard Converge and I finally understood how these styles could meld together. Jane Doe was the most aggressive thing I’d ever heard, it had a backbone of punk and metallic hardcore but with a tough, overshadowing presence of metal. Technically as proficient as anything I’d heard while still spitting in your face along with the muck and sludge of any good dirty punk, the album pushed me into finding the beauty in harsh noise. It made me want to play harder, faster and better and propelled me into a new world of technically brutal music of which I felt at home.

The Bronx – The Bronx

The next album I want to mention is The Bronx first full length (self titled). I heard this a couple years after Jane Doe came out, and I was already moving away from punk music and really exploring heavy experimental bands. At this point from my perspective I thought that true old school punk that I loved was mostly dead, the punk that I heard around this time was safe, and fun and the only music that was truely pissed off was metal, grind etc. Then I heard the Bronx and I was blown away. The first track ‘Heart Attack American’ immediately made my blood boil and brought me back to the first punk record that I ever heard. I felt violent and I felt dangerous. Then I went to see the band and again I was reminded that punk never really went anywhere. I’ve seen some of the most violent, chaotic pits at Bronx shows, their wild stage antics whipping the crowd into a frenzy every time. It was because of this record that I’m reminded of my roots, and that I don’t have to forget what I grew up on, but that I always can take the ideals of punk and punk music into whatever music I make going forward.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – Calculating Infinity

The last album that really changed me was both Calculating Infinity and Miss Machine by The Dillinger Escape Plan. Holy shit. What a band they were. I was late to the game when it comes to Dillinger, I had watched videos of their shows with friends but had never really dove into their catalogue. Then I saw them live and my eyes were stapled open. I had never seen such pure, beautiful chaos. Every member of the band put themselves at risk, from Greg Puciato dangling from the 40 ft. rafters, to Ben Weinman jumping from the speakers into the crowd to Chris Pennie swinging his cymbal stands from over his head and letting them fly into the audience. Then I listened to the band and it all came together. The extreme precision and technicality along with the horrible dissonance and slam-your-head-into-a-wall breakdowns left me speechless. I heard punk, hardcore, grind, experimental and metal all forced into the same car as it barrels into a fucking wall. These albums really married the idea that all music can influence each other, and that genres are a made up construct that people use to make themselves feel cool. These albums didn’t care about any of these musical boundaries, they made their own. This was exactly what I had been looking for and exactly what I had been unknowingly practicing to become. It had everything I liked wrapped into one aggressive package and I will forever be grateful that Dillinger existed and was able to play for so long.

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