Dark, visceral, layered, vintage, organic, analogue, authentic and political. Shaman’s Harvest have always been a band to embrace music rather than merely regurgitate sounds in the hope of gaining nods of approval. They’re also a band that’s done a lot in their 20 years and had some degree of success too along the way. With 5 great albums so far we’re lucky that we get to hear this sixth with singer Nathan Hunt now recovered from his brush with throat cancer.
The problem (or the great part if you’re a fan) about Shaman’s harvest is that musically they do their best to both defy description and delay the digital inevitability like so many proud Luddites. It’s in that technophobia, though I think that is the wrong word, it’s for me more of a love of the warm sounds and honesty of the past; that they create some wonderful music.
‘Red Hands Black Deeds’ the title track that opens the album takes it’s note from the bands bluesy, country roots and starts with a simple drum and bleak but warm arrangement that loosens things up nicely before the hard rock thrust of ‘Broken Ones’. It’s the perfect bend.
You can feel that low-additives ethic throughout the album and the forsaking of the digital not only gives that warmth there’s also a looseness and raw ragged edge to even the most fluid and commercial tracks- ‘The Come Up’ is as addictive as it comes, immersed in a funky groove but undoubtedly classic, Classic hard rock, its the sort of song that is just one wonderful aspect of the band.
There’s plenty of other great sounds too: ‘A Longer View’ wells and spills from the speakers gently and offset against the bluesy sway of ‘Soul Crusher’ both become more burnished and beautiful. And it’s that golden glow that pervades the album – while ‘Off The Tracks’ bobs and swings with a Countrified zeal ‘Long Way Home’ rolls in with it slow, smooth and satisfying blues.
Elsewhere it’s hard to ignore the atmospheric build and bass driven smooth hard rock groove of ‘The Devil In Our Wake’ and the bluesy warmth of ‘Blood Trophies’. It’s on ‘So Long’ though that you feel it all gets drawn together in a smouldering soulful rocker that sees the band in full flight.
The album closes with the simple acoustic tale of ‘Tusk and Bone’ and the six minute epic ‘Scavengers’. Shaman’s Harvest has produced another great album despite the odds and they leave you with a feeling of great peace and reverence. This is wonderful music and all the better for eschewing the artificial and digital.