It’s hard to argue against the statement that there is a whole ton of shit going on with most heavy music. Metal isn’t really known for pulling back on the presentation. Instead, it’s typically full speed ahead, a total sensory assault that leaves your brain wiring fried and smoking, which usually is exactly what we want.
Yet, there is a special pocket in the doom sub-genre that lashes back against that idea. Groups such as Sunn 0))), Earth, Om, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor rely on making things happen in swollen spaces, leaning back and making the atmosphere come to you, often over as long a period of time as they deem relevant. Pittsburgh’s own The Long Hunt fall into that same line of thinking, and you get more of the good stuff on their excellent second full-length “All Paths Lead to Here,” the follow-up to last year’s debut “Wilderness Tales.” With this band, minimalism is the name of the game, and they do a fine job on these six songs carving paths down dusty roads, letting the sun burn your skin, and leading you into a transformative musical experience that puts some of the responsibility on the listener to commit to the journey. The three-headed beast—guitarist Trevor Richards, bassist Allison Kacmar Richards, and drummer Mark Lyons—lets you rise and fall with their dynamics, and these songs are perfect for contemplation, relaxation, or simply winding down after you’ve been put to the test all day.
“Ground of Being” starts us off with the guitars easing into the scene, the pace slowly burning, and a steely, desert-like sense to the music. The track feels Earth-ish as it rumbles, with the leads cutting in, the pace gaining momentum, and everything getting louder and more abrasive before cooling off and fading away. “Negative Teeth” crunches right away, landing quick jabs and mixing that with a dose of cool breeze from the guitars. The band digs into a swagger, as the track takes on sunburn with the leads scorching flesh. The band chills out a bit and eases into a sequence that feels like modern-era Rush (which is a good thing because they still rule) before heading into an echo chamber. The track crunches all over, with a fuzzy jam running to the end. “Closing the Circle” begins with drums bustling, the bass riveting, and us heading back into the desert with dry throats. Guitars head through and pull us into a driving rain before speed takes over and races to a psyched-out end.
Things remain dry and sandy as “The Winnowing Hand” picks up, gasping for air at the surface as the heat beats down. The track starts to chug and punch its way out, as the leads burn a path, and things continue to get heavier and more aggressive. Finally calm emerges, as things come floating back to earth. “Smoke Offering” starts with birds chirping, fire crackling, and hearth-style guitars bringing the picture into focus. The song is spacey and frosty, a cosmic trip into the unknown that takes us into a strange, blinding alien fire and psychedelic clouds. The guitars melt and flow into a tributary, spilling into the mouth of the sea. Closer “Cantiga 166 (Tower of Set)” (um, fuck yeah, “Conan the Barbarian” reference) ends the record with a Middle Eastern spirit, as sitars spill into the mix and things get trancey in a hurry. The track blends into earthy synth, as the drama builds and hurtles toward the sun, ending things on a hypnotic note.
If you’re local to Pittsburgh, you can check out The Long Hunt on the second Descendants of Crom festival this September, if you don’t run into them sooner. It’ll be a meeting well worth your time, as these songs promise to expand the room in a live setting and give you a new understanding of their power. “All Paths Lead to Here” is a fine piece of work that unravels more with each listen, so by all means, go back and indulge.
For more on the band and to stream the album, go here: https://listentothelonghunt.com/
To buy the album, go here: https://thelonghunt.bandcamp.com/album/all-paths-lead-to-here