I confess that I hadn’t heard of SHAMAN’S HARVEST until a promo for “Red Hands, Black Deeds“ found its way to my mailbox in 2017. Long story short – I loved it and I still love it to this day. I was immediately swept away by its strong blend of all the best rock-related genres: alternative, jazz, blues, soul… you name it, the album had it. As such, it’s only natural that when the first single promoting a new album was released in 2021, I had to hear the new album! Set for release on March 11th, 2022, via Mascot Label Group, let’s see what these American rockers have for us this time! Check out our interview with Nathan Hunt and Josh Hamler here!
The album gets off to a great start with the upbeat and catchy “Under Your Skin.” Immediately, “Rebelator” does not feel like the very blues and jazz -influenced “Red Hands, Black Deeds,” staying a little more strictly in the alternative rock genre. However, don’t take that to mean that things don’t get shaken up! Nathan Hunt‘s low, powerful voice brings life to the song while the the rest of the band keep it interesting with groovy rhythms and powerful guitar lines. If you listen closely, you’ll hear great little details in the guitar behind the force of the main melody, as well as a wicked shriek at the end of one of the choruses. These guys are real wizards of adding special touches into their sound and if you really want to know what I mean, you need only listen to “Toe the Line,” which is a smooth, catchy track that starts with a strong bass line and kicks up the heaviness a bit, softening to a more laidback sound in the verses… but there are roaring growls in the background of the chorus, if you can believe it! It’s not overtly notable until you pay some attention and man does it add some power into the track. One has to give these guys props for their quality lyrics as well – “Flatline” starts off with a highly modulated intro line, then pushes into some chill guitarwork before Hunt joins in and shares his emotive vocals once more, with wonderful lines like “when you love the rose but you crave the thorn” and the chorus in general.
Lead single “Voices” is a true hard-hitter, especially for those who have ever experienced any sort of mental turmoil (so, pretty much everyone). This is one of those songs that belongs on every depressed person’s playlist of anthems to help you stay strong and pick you up. And man, that guitar solo! Did Mascot really not see that the solo is what ties this song together? The anthemic chorus towards the end and the wild harmonization really push it to the next level. I truly hope to hear this live at some point before I die, or my life will not be complete.
“Wildfire” has a darker vibe in the beginning with slow, heavy riffing that softens out in the bridge, leading to a surprisingly feel-good chorus. This track acts as a nice breather between the punchier songs, like the following “Lilith,” which puts a lot of focus on Nathan‘s vocals, adding some “oooh-oooh” lines to back him up in the chorus and a nice change-up in the C-part. It’s a real catchy piece that stands out on the album, particularly from a lyrical standpoint. I love the line, “You don’t care that I am broken / let me worship at your feet” – magical! The backing vocals again add some extra texture and the piano notes let it end on a soft, even a bit mysterious note, as Nathan sings “who needs you” to close it out.
One of the more surprising songs on “Rebelator” is the not-quite-interlude, “Mama.” It’s a very stripped-down song in many ways, focusing on guitar and piano as the vocals take off… I wonder if this is actually Josh singing the lead in this track, as the vocals in the foreground don’t quite sound like Nathan, though I’m fairly sure he can be heard in the backing vocals. The drums never do appear on this track, rather, a gentle acoustic guitar line takes over towards the end and the song finishes on a single piano note. Another nice acoustic guitar line opens up “Hurricane,” with a slow build-up to a really nice chorus that has great layered backing vocals to add power to Nathan‘s main lines. The drums step it up in the second verse, making for a really awesome second half of the song, but it fades out on a gentler note afterwards.
“Pretty People” was one of the singles, as well as one of the fastest bangers on the album. It’s also noteworthy for featuring Clint Lowery of YELLOWCARD fame as a guest. It’s a pretty quick ride at 3:13 runtime, but it hits hard in that time, with a really punchy pre-chorus before drawling out a little as it leads into the “settle down / wear it out / I swear I hate pretty people” lines. “Wishing Well” draws the listener in with the vocals and lyrics as one guitar chugs forward and the lead adds flavor, while the rhythms make for great texture. The vocals are also echoed a bit in the background – another one of those little things that really add to the song. There’s a great singalong-able chorus to this one as well, and it fades out on a nice note of “don’t hear, don’t speak, never tell,” backed by strings.
The album then wraps up with another single, “Bird Dog,” which starts with ambient sliding notes and beating drums, before guitars and what sounds like a mouth organ come in to back up Nathan, who’s really milking his deep sound, with a bit of that southern American drawl put to good use. In fact, of all the songs on the album, this has a nice southern rock/country vibe to it, which manages to make it a laid-back yet strong closer to the album, especially with the fierce punch-up about a third of the way through in the chorus. There’s a bit of chill soloing towards the end, making for a really strong wrap-up.
If you’re looking for a band that keeps the quality at its peak on all fronts – vocals, lyrics, musicianship – SHAMAN’S HARVEST is definitely one you should check out, if you don’t know them already. The diversity of sound in their material is always delightful to delve into and I personally listened to the album about twenty times before I even started writing this, just to have enough time to digest everything. If there’s one small flaw, it’s that the mix tends to put the lead guitars behind the rhythms, meaning listeners have to pay pretty close attention to catch those nice details, which could’ve stood out a little more. Beyond that, this is a pretty tight package from start-to-finish, so definitely add this to your must-check-out albums of 2022!
- Under Your Skin
- Toe the Line
- Pretty People ft. Clint Lowery
- Wishing Well
- Bird Dog
Nathan Hunt – lead vocals
Josh Hamler – rhythm guitar
Derrick Shipp – lead guitar
Adam Zemanek – drums
Mascot Label Group