SHAMAN'S HARVEST
"Red Hands Black Deeds"

(Mascot)

01. Deeds (prelude)
02. Broken Ones
03. The Come Up
04. A Longer View
05. Soul Crusher
06. Off The Tracks
07. Long Way Home
08. The Devil in Our Wake
09. Blood Trophies
10. So Long
11. Tusk and Bone
12. Scavengers

RATING: 6.5/10

Jefferson City, Missouri's SHAMAN'S HARVEST has already dipped its toes in the ocean of commercial success, most notably with "Dragonfly" from 2009's "Shine". The group has the right sound and style at the right time rendering them fit to capitalize and ride that wave. The band's sixth full-length album, "Red Hands Black Deeds", exists at the point of a Venn diagram where fans of contemporary hard rock, pop music and modern country circles overlap. (The group isn't country per se, but there are a few overt flirtations with country, namely "Off The Tracks", in addition to obvious traces of Southern rock.) The unit's combination of talent, ambition and modern palatability suggest that it could be the next SHINEDOWN.

Few could question the band's tenacity: it has been plugging away for 20 years at this point. What's more, while recording its last album, 2014's "Smokin' Hearts & Broken Guns", frontman Nathan "Drake" Hunt found out that he was afflicted with aggressive throat cancer. He took the uppercut to the chin, and valiantly kept swinging. He concurrent underwent medical treatment while cutting vocal tracks in the studio. Ironically enough, the band's rugged determination translates musically into a much more polished final product.

SHAMAN'S HARVEST consciously sought to avoid the digital sounding material of its previous recorded output by exploiting the talents of new producer Keith Armstrong (BLACK STONE CHERRY, RISE AGAINST). Specifically, the group used Armstrong's vintage analog recording gear, as well as his organic sounding effects and instruments: everything from goat toes—a rural percussion instrument made of goat toes on a string—sandpaper, and an old rotary telephone implanted into microphones for the outro of "Scavengers". The group's efforts find it tapping into the Americana spirit sufficiently enough, yet they don't convincingly meet the end of capturing a sound that comes across as properly organic and natural. Sure, there is grit in terms of its songs and production aesthetic for a NICKELBACK fan, but the album probably won't resonate with MOTORHEAD's minions.

With "Red Hands Black Deeds", SHAMAN'S HARVEST churns out Southern-flavored chargers, like "Broken Ones", that are beefed up with pseudo-metal thumping. Throughout the release, the Midwestern quintet displays maturity by practicing self-control considering its impressive talents, avoiding the usual trap of self-serving indulgence. The rhythmic bounce of "The Come Up" provides a groovy backdrop for Hunt's storytelling and soulful lyrics. "A Longer View" sets off with a calming piano intro that leads into a soothing, slow-paced introspective number that also highlights Hunt's impressive voice. However, while there are few obvious chinks in "Red Hands Black Deeds"'s armor, it's certainly not overwhelming. With that said, measured against what's popular in contemporary mainstream rock, nearly every song on "Red Hands Black Deeds" is worthy of falling within the rotation of any terrestrial rock radio station.

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