Never has an albums backstory so intrigued me. The album was recorded in one continuous 23 hour session. According to the press release, the band used a generator for electricity as they were out in the middle of nowhere Appalachia, Virginia. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Appalachian Mountains or this part of Virginia; think of the movies Deliverance and Wrong Turn. There is nothing but trees and mountains and wilderness for hours and hours and hours. It’s far off the beaten path, to wit, there are no paths. This is where Paul Waggener, guitars and vocals for Hunter’s Ground, lives. This is where the inspiration for “No God But the Wild” comes from.
If that story doesn’t make you sit up and take notice, you are missing a pulse and should get to A&E rather quickly. Or better yet, pop in “No God But The Wind”. The listener is greeted with the bombastic tribalistic drumming of Nathan Saunders and some very wicked vocals courtesy of Paul Waggener. Rounding out this trio of Hunter’s Ground is Stephen Haller on bass. ‘A Storm of Crows’ is a sick and twisted song. It sets your teeth on edge and raises the hair on your arms. The song makes you fearful but you can’t tear yourself away from it. You want more. Some of the guitar parts seem as if they are laughing at your pain. The first song is Machiavellian and Macbethian all at once.
Just the title of the second song is enough to give you pause, ‘Their Hands Were Stained With Her Dripping Blood’. So the song goes, “…it’s never enough the carnage continues….” Oh so true. The song is dark and doomy, almost Norwegian Black Metal. “…. you leave with nothing but the ashes of their bones….” ominous to be sure. This is dark and twisted storytelling at its best. Unlike most growling death metal bands, you can understand what Paul Waggener is singing. Sometimes you wish you couldn’t but it bodes well that such important and interesting lyrics are accessible to the listener.
‘And Fed Their Flesh to the Vultures’ is another in your face wall of sound composition. It’s loud and hard. It gives you the feeling of running through the Virginia woods late at night with something chasing you. The funny thing is, during the last minute or so, the guitars get positively jaunty; very Viking in nature.
The next track is entitled ‘Speaking in the Tongues of Trees’. If this is what trees sound like when they speak, you can keep the Entmoot as it is long and laborious. If atmosphere is what you’re after, then this is a great track. It’s full of ambiance and rich in texture and tone. But, it’s dropped in the middle of the album and you wonder why. I suppose if you were dropped in the middle of the Appalachians and all of a sudden came upon a clearing inside a circle of trees and sunlight was streaming through in shafts sparkling off the blades of grass and highlighting the pollen and cottonwood tree seeds in the air; this is what it would sound like.
The title track ‘No God But the Wind’ begins with some killer drumming that reminds you that this album was recorded in a cabin in the woods. You can really hear the rawness here. Nathan’s drumming is the standout here. It’s totally front and center. It is the driving force of the song. At 2:00 a counterpoint kicks in utilizing guitars and then continued with (to my ears sound like) vocals that mimic the wind through the trees at night. It’s haunting. Then it becomes very much ritualistic; like the braves of an Iroquois tribe dancing around a fire getting ready to do battle. The song then bobs and weaves into Black Sabbath territory, a Maiden riff here, a Metallica riff there and a small nod to Moonspell.
Rounding out the 32 minutes of atmospheric shuddering bone chilling metal riffage Hunter’s Ground have produced is a reflective piece called ‘The Fireless Winter’. Make no mistake, it’s not slow nor is it pretty. It’s a wall of sound punctuated by guitars plaintively wailing for help over drumming intended to drive you crazy. The song is borne of claustrophobia in both being shut up in a small space and of being lost in a vast wilderness. The song twists and turns and changes key. Much like being lost in the woods, you are unsure of which direction to go. Any direction will bring pain and death but it may be a darn site better than standing still waiting for something to come out of the night and get you. Hunter’s Ground release of ‘No God But the Wind” is an unnerving and visceral romp through the consciousness. Well done, lads! Well done!