Evil Hunter - Evil Hunter

Evil Hunter cover
Evil Hunter
Evil Hunter
Fighter Records
Once again I’ve been reeled in by an album’s wicked cybernetic artwork only to be further enchanted by the actual musicianship. This time around, the apple of my electric eye is Spain’s Evil Hunter and its 1980s evoking brand of classic hard rock meets dyed in the wool, twin-guitar heavy metal, namely household acts such as Accept, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne and Skid Row. In fact, I’m literally overwhelmed by its titular full-length debut, released earlier this month under Fighter Records, as a veritable host of influences/inspirations can be gleaned throughout the eight crisply rendered, expedient tracks (save a rather lame power ballad whose intro ruefully makes me think of Cyndi Lauper!) totaling thirty-five instantly appealing minutes of golden age glory.
The quizzically titled and compact, shuffle-some opener, “Surf the Waves”, adroitly introduces the frontman’s concisely delivered and at times, stratospherically poignant vocals which initially reminded me of Skid Row, as his rebellious and too-cool-for-school down-shifted inflections smack of Sebastian Bach’s grippingly sardonic and raw performance on “Slave to the Grind”. Indeed, the Hunter is off to a great start! The raucously trilling and squealing main riff comes across as Striker meets Megadeth, whilst the succeeding title track’s slambashing, pounding cadence brings to mind modern day Accept, although at this point I need to emphasize how “guimauve” (i.e. saccharine and romantically tempered) some of the choruses are, notably the latter’s Poison/Motley Crue-ish element, as well as the overt rainbow referencing refrain (and possible Dio tribute!) to “Hold Me Tight”. Paradoxically, this last’s main, colorfully chromatic riff is an unmitigated dead-ringer for Megadeth’s “Vortex” (insert juvenile albeit conducive defenestration emoj here!). In regards to said ballad, “By Your Side”, the less said the better. I kind of dig the first few bars yet struggle to place my finger on precisely, which rock crooner it evokes but essentially, it's the album’s sole weak and skip-able track.
However, I guarantee you’ll duly get your rocks off on the auspiciously titled tour-de-force (and longest cut at five minutes), “Hot Leather”. Ooh boy! Beginning with a chill bluesy guitar progression before radically transitioning into a mesmerizing-ly hot rockin’ fist-pumper of a “Devil’s Child” (JP)/”Night of Defilement” (Ambush) loosely poised guitar riff and bloated, as well as pumping, bass line, this winner compellingly ramps up in impetus and drive with a highly catchy chorus and wonky honky-tonk, Zakk Wylde-ish guitar solo, which fluidly reverts to spacey and bouncing clean reverberations capped by placidly unfolding Billy Gibbons’ styled pentatonics sure to leave you pining for more despite the memorable main riff's brief return. While a music video was created for “Evil Hunter” proper, the same should be done for this bona-fide crotch grinder! Portentously rounding things off are the mid-tempo and gruffly waltzing, razor-honed and profusely neo-classical “Go”, which is imbued with fiery and downright kick-ass Tipton/Downing leads, and closer “Open Your Eyes”, a drum dominated, self-propulsive and catapulting dirge largely reminiscent of fellow-countrymen and rather unheralded Spanish traditional heavy metal trailblazer, Steel Horse.
Despite the stalwart and melodically fierce lead playing – which even evokes Yngwie Malmsteen on another heady cruncher, “Heartbeat” – I had to restrain myself from overrating this as, admittedly, Evil Hunter slightly lags in the originality department. Regardless, each band member solidly pulls his weight while the band as a whole competently exudes professionalism and class. The production and mixing is also top notch, notwithstanding the tracks’ retroactive and vintage flair. Suffice to say, there are times when one can definitely judge a book, er, album, by its cover!