2020 Best of Metal: #8 Huntsmen-Mandala of Fear

Release date: March 13, 2020

Origin: Chicago, Illinois

Personnel: Chris Kang-vox/guitar, Aimee Bueno-vox, Kirill Orlov-guitar, Marc Stranger-Najjar-bass, Ray Knipe-drums

These guys are a past winner of the Golden Flip Flop in 2018 with their debut album, American Scrap. I was really interested to see where they would go with their next album and whether they would suffer any sort of sophomore slump. Not only did they knock it out of the park with album number two, they went overly ambitious with a double-album concept record. This album also saw the addition of Aimee Bueno as a permanent second vocalist in the band. It feels as though this release moves a bit away from the Americana Metal style of the first release and have moved into a more progressive bent. The style of songs are very diverse on here from Yes-influenced prog to death metal to soulful dirges. In full disclosure, I truly love this band and feel like they are one of the more promising young groups to come down the pike in quite some time. They are really forging their own sound and a unique identity.

4.5 flip flops out of 5

The list so far:
8. Huntsmen-Mandala of Fear
9. Black Crown Initiate-Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape
10. Haken-Virus
11. Fake Names-Fake Names
12. Kvelertak-Splid
13. King Buffalo-Dead Star
14. Sylosis-Cycle of Suffering
15. Kirk Windstein-Dream in Motion
16. Oranssi Pazuzu-Mestarin Kynsi
17. Forming the Void-Reverie
18. Lamb of God-Lamb of God
19. Demons and Wizards-III
20. Killer Be Killed-Reluctant Hero

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