Like Gov’t Mule’s latest album, Shaman’s Harvest new record Red Hands Black Deeds (Mascot) was worked on during the American presidential campaign of 2016 – as such there are underlying socio-political themes coursing through the record. On this, their sixth album, the Missouri rockers have taken a vintage, more organic approach to their Shinedown-esque Hard Rock resulting in a fresher, more attention grabbing sound.
‘Broken Ones’ is classic radio hard rock with chug-along riffs leading to a tasty chorus, it touches upon immigration and feeling disenfranchised – tapping into Nathan Hunt’s Native American ancestry, his family being a part of the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina. The grizzly topic of war is the focus of ‘The Devil in Our Wake’, a heavy, sludgy number with plenty of rage, fuzzy guitars and a decadently thick bass line courtesy of Matt Fisher. ‘A Longer View’ is a power ballad about civil unrest and racism, the overblown melodrama is turned up to life threatening, Sixx:AM like proportions – with Hunt’s impassioned vocals sounding like blues maestro Joe Bonamassa.
Things get personal in the soulful rocker ‘The Come up’, a song about Nathan Hunt’s battle with depression after the throat cancer he got during the production of 2014’s Smokin Hearts and Broken Guns (Mascot), which threatened to break up the band. ‘Long Way Home’ is of the same ilk, an emotive bluesy rocker Warren Haynes would be proud to call his own; it’s bare simplicity adding to its charms. This less is more approach is also stuck to on ‘Tusk and Bones’, an acoustically driven outpouring of emotion.
The album’s at its strongest though when the energy is up, as shown by ‘Soul Crusher’, a foot tapper with an irresistibly funky riff and a raucous sound. A well-rounded album with a wonderfully fresh, vintage approach to their tried and test commercial rock sound.