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HUNTSMEN have returned to add a dynamic new chapter to the rich and varied tradition of great American storytelling. Mandala of Fear, massive in scope and spanning two full LPs, explores themes of trauma, recovery, and - ultimately - survival, through the lens of a fully formed sci-fi-esque tale set in the near future as unending desert war crumbles into apocalypse.

With the dust barely settled in the aftermath of 2017’s American Scrap, the now expanded Chicago-based ensemble set about creating the framework that the intricate and immersive story of Mandala of Fear would hang from. The tale follows a soldier on her first combat mission gone wrong, as she encounters wartime horrors and traverses obstacles - both physical and emotional - dredging depths of internal resilience as she redefines the meaning of personal strength. Her saga can be consumed as a standalone epic, or approached as a metaphor for those same themes as experienced by the story’s authors.

With no stone unturned in the all-consuming Mandala of Fear, the album is accompanied by visual elements that enhance the narrative. With cover artwork painted by drummer Ray Knipe depicting the site of this telling of humanity’s last great war, the LP is further complemented by the addition of an accompanying comic book; the characters are brought to life via the drawings of Danny White.

Recorded at Decade Studios in Chicago with Sanford Parker occupying the producer’s chair, Mandala of Fear was laid down over two weeks in April 2019. Parker’s own love of true American storytellers such as Waylon Jennings further imbued the spirit of the tradition into every crevice of the album, while his leanings toward icy electronic music provide a chilling and gut-wrenching counterpoint. Paired with HUNTSMEN’s past-and-future timelessness, the result is breathtaking and devastating.