Self-billed as “cinematic metal with thrash and traditional elements”, Maverick Hunter is a group of four wickedly talented musicians from Tampa, Florida. While that initial description has truth to it, in reality, Maverick Hunter is a melodic death metal group that is willing to go far beyond the boundaries of the genre at times. Their self-titled debut album provides you with a little bit of everything over the course of 53 minutes, and is a bright spot for this style of metal.
After a short intro, the album begins with its strongest cut, “I, Of The Storm”. This track’s initial frantic gallop will have you headbanging instantly. A folky lead soon appears before leading into Jeff Pouring’s fantastic growls. Picking out a singular comparison is a difficult task, but fans of bands like Norther and Children of Bodom certainly won’t be disappointed with his harsh vocals. Later aided by gang vocals and the return of folk-induced melodies, “I, Of The Storm” manages to become even more intense as it goes on. The shredding on this track is more traditional than you would expect, as it isn’t classically influenced like so many of Maverick Hunter’s contemporaries are. In direct contrast to the first full song, the following track, “Out of Exile”, begins much slower and uses keyboards very effectively. It isn’t until the guitar solo that the track picks up the tempo. Though the melodeath songs certainly don’t sound identical, they are nothing out of the ordinary for the genre. Before getting on to what makes “Maverick Hunter” stand out, it’s worth talking about the production. Overall, the sound on this record is impressive. Every instrument (sans-bass) is audible and properly mixed, and the drums are well tuned (you won’t get any of that high or loud snare that dominates many metal albums). Although the production is relatively modern, it isn’t entirely perfect, and that human touch is likely to appeal to others.
Where this record deviates from others is in its excessive use of clean vocals. Though many melodic death metal bands have begun using clean vocals, “Maverick Hunter” shows a very clear transition in the way they are used. The opening few tracks have none of these types of vocals, but they are slowly worked in throughout the record, culminating in a cover of a song by The White Buffalo, where the band abandons metal almost entirely. The final two tracks, however, return to playing melodic death metal. Pouring’s clean vocal style is a baritone, not unlike Jari Mäenpää. He also proves that he can do some higher vocals, such as in the chorus of “Run With The Hunted”. Overall, however, his range is not exceptional, but it does compliment the growls well.
Maverick Hunter’s debut album is very impressive for many reasons. Beyond the high-quality songwriting, it’s simply a record with a lot of variation, and everything the band does differently works well (for the most part; I’m still not entirely sold on the cover song). Even when the band plays melodeath, they find ways to differentiate each track. While I’m certain fans of melodic death metal will love this record, I would recommend it to all metal fans because of the variety.
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"I, Of The Storm"
"Run With The Hunted"
"Death's Head (Fear)"
4.3/5 or 86%.
Written by Scott Dorfman