I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Hunting the Hidden—Aphelion
Grimsland Records, 2018
12 Tracks, Run Time: 38:34
Hunting the Hidden is a melodic death metal band hailing from Trondheim, Norway. The quartet has been kicking around the underground metal scene since 2008, when they were originally known as "Kurai." They changed their band name to the current "Hunting the Hidden" moniker in 2015, and their releases include an EP (In Vain, 2015) and a full-length debut album (Fragments, 2016) via their own Grimsland Records label.
Hunting the Hidden's second full-length studio effort, entitled Aphelion, was released in November 2018. The lyric video for the album's first single "Hollow" hit YouTube in mid-2018, and the track is available on all major music streaming services.
Aphelion CD Review
Before I get down to business, I should probably confess that I'm an un-hip old goat whose taste in metal leans more towards the traditional '80s style; therefore, I'm not very knowledgeable about the current melodic death metal (or "melo-death" as the kids like to call it) scene. The press release that accompanied Aphelion compared Hunting the Hidden to In Flames, Lamb of God, Gojira, and Haken . . . which didn't really give me much to go on, since I've only heard two of those bands (In Flames and Lamb of God), and I only own an album by one of them (In Flames' Clayman).
Sooo . . . yeah, maybe I'm not the ideal target audience for this album, but hey, the band was nice enough to send it to me for free; therefore, I'm gonna do them a solid and try to review it as fairly as I can. Those of you who are more hip to current extreme-metal trends can feel free to tell me how clueless I am in the comment section at the end of this article. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's press "play" and see what Aphelion is all about.
"Into Singularity" kicks things off with some nice pummeling riffage, and the throat-shredding growls of Per Kristian Grimsland sound seasoned and confident. I'm not sure if Grimsland also handles the clean singing that comes in from time to time to add contrast, but if that is indeed him, then I am certainly impressed with his vocal acrobatics.
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"Planned Obsolescence" continues the punishment, with the rhythm section of Lars Arne-Grimsland (bass) and drummer Mads Kristian Aas laying down a rock-solid foundation for Per and lead guitarist Andre Dahl-Jacobsen's six-string mayhem. The single "Hollow" is a highlight, with a melodic chorus that provides a nice break from the brutality, and "The Red State Reaper" is an all-out thrasher that reminded me of latter-day Slayer (minus the vox), with a cool squealing guitar solo that's pure Hanneman/King.
"Inertia," "Martyr," and "The Problem With Death Itself" (I love that title!) continue in the same vein—short, catchy bursts of twisty, razor-wire guitar groove topped by vocals that alternate between brutal and soothing. The title track features another fleet-fingered guitar solo in the middle of the musical mayhem, and then the album closes with "Ascension," a two-and-a-half minute instrumental that brings the band's considerable melodic talents to the forefront.
Production and Title
Aphelion is a very well-produced and -mixed album, with all the various parts (guitars, drums, vocals) given ample room to shine without overpowering each other. Kudos to whoever was working the console during these recordings!
Here's an extra fun fact: Google tells me that an "Aphelion" is "the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid, or comet at which it is furthest from the sun." Perhaps Hunting the Hidden's next album will be named "Periphelion," after the opposite of this cosmic convergence? (Just throwing that idea out there, guys.)
Melo-Death for New- and Old-School Metalheads
To sum up, I may not know much about the melo-death genre, but after several spins of Aphelion, I'm confident enough to say that the comparisons to In Flames and Lamb of God in the press release are accurate. The band's skills at melodic twin-guitar destruction are quite similar to I.F., and Grimsland's growl is clearly inspired by Lamb of God's Randy Blythe. Fans of either of those bands, as well as stuff like Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom, Dark Tranquility, or even old schoolers like Prong and Fear Factory, should be able to get their groove on to Aphelion.
Where to Learn More About the Band
Hunting The Hidden have the musical chops and the youthful drive to make a name for themselves in this very crowded genre. Interested parties can learn more about Hunting the Hidden on their official Facebook page.
Hunting the Hidden Discography
In Vain EP: Grimsland Records, 2015
Fragments: Grimsland Records, 2016
Aphelion: Grimsland Records, 2018
© 2018 Keith Abt