Hunted – Welcome the Dead

Cardiff-based heavy metal band HUNTED’s debut full-length album was a labor of love for the foursome. Last year’s Alone EP was well-received, and three songs from it appear on their full-length debut, Welcome the Dead, independently released. But these renditions sound more polished and robust.

The band’s sound is more controlled and mature on Welcome the Dead. It’s easy to notice that they took their time with this disc and it brought out the best within themselves to create some well-crafted songs.

The distinctive quality of the band is the wailing scream-but-powerful vocal pitch from Greek singer Chris G., who displays similarities to Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), Rob Halford (Judas Priest) and most notably, Warrel Dane (Nevermore). The lead flourishes of Steven Barberini, the rapid bass work of Jon Letson and the monstrous drumming of Matthew “Animal” Thomas solidifies the unit.

It’s easily recognizable that HUNTED’s musical influences are Iron Maiden, Iced Earth, Helloween, Dream Theater, early Metallica and Nevermore. But the bands they grew up admiring gave them the drive to construct their own style.

The first proper song after the intro, “The Silence of Minds,” has an Iced Earth meets Nevermore sound. The harmonious melodies and layered vocals add some flavor to the overall sound of the song. “Impaled” has an Iron Maiden-sounding twin lead structure and an Iced Earth flavor. It has a bit of a slower tempo than the version on their EP, but it still packs a punch. It’s based on a true story that Barberini penned while living in Columbia about a child who witnessed the murder of his parents. “The Incident,” which precedes it, is the reenactment of the child crying after witnessing the murder, and one can really feel the child’s emotion and bitter despair. “Shadows” begins with a moody, slow-paced acoustic guitar intro. It’s a tale about relationship woes. The band’s love for Nevermore really shines on their cover of “The Heart Collector” from 2000’s Dead Heart in a Dead World. Hunted really does it justice too. They nail the powerful vocals of Dane and the overall melodic song structure.

There’s high hope for these Cardiff boys. I encourage metalheads and music fans alike to check these guys out. Their song arrangements and musicianship is pretty solid. I can only imagine their songwriting will be even stronger on their next opus, and maybe a major label comes calling.

By Kelley Simms

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