Dark (one-sided 12”) EP
(Pirates Press Records)
While I can’t keep myself from wondering why Hunting Lions elected to keep the music on the Dark EP contained to just one side of this 12” (there’s five songs on one side and a graphic on the other), there is no question that the songs on this EP are excellent. In addition, it is pretty nice that the record needs no flipping to get the full experience from this release.
From the pummelling beat which opens “The City” – which transitions well with some warm keyboards and crunchy guitars, listeners are treated to a solid slab of San Francisco-issued street punk which is similar in tone to Rancid – but with a little more melody injected into the vocals courtesy of singer Ben Coleman. For the first two minutes of the song, Coleman blasts through a love letter to his favorite city and only breaks stride for a slightly lighter bridge before trailing off to let the song close. “The City” is, it goes without saying, an excellent introduction to who the band is, the band’s values and offers an excellent lede for listeners to follow into the EP.
After “The City” sets a tone, “KOTA” establishes Huntiing Lions’ comfort zone (complete with tall cans, Madball on the stereo and easy-to-follow pop punk changes), and then really strikes an ideal chord with the finest melodic hardcore assault not written by NOFX with “War.” There, all of the pieces that Hunting Lions are playing with align in an absolutely perfect manner; the band plays so hot and fast that Coleman needs a minute to find his stride but, when he does, his laments about being the last of a dying breed ring perfectly, and it will be hard for those listening to keep from singing along.
The power of “War” actually gets heightened that ever-so-important extra step through the ear-bleeding “BNO” (which is the shortest song on the EP because of its speed, not its compositional brevity) before finally closing out its running with “Dead Generation” and embodying a hope that Americans can look past blue and red political lines – because the way those arguments and fights and animosity end is wholly unproductive. The vocal performance in the song is pretty subdued (read: “not as energetic as the band has been elsewhere on this EP) but, by the time the song ends, those who have experienced it will see the value in the way the song was composed and performed, and will be able to walk away satisfied by the experience.
Now, as easy as it is to project that the Dark EP is a good and satisfying listen, it’s hard to look at it objectively without wondering what Hunting Lions on the counterpart release, Light. This EP is fine, sure – but it’s impossible to not wonder what the band was holding back. [Bill Adams]
Hunting Lions’ Dark EP is out now. Buy it here, directly from Pirates’ Press Records.