The Dear Hunter - Act III: Life And Death

Album cover
Experimental, Indie, Rock
Triple Crown Records
The Dear Hunter
Act III: Life And Death
The Dear Hunter - Act III: Life And Death Review rating:
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Average: 4 (1 vote)

For between $25 and $35, depending on the area, you can get a basic cable subscription. The combination of Turner Classic Movies and the History Channel is probably enough to sate most people’s interest in a turn-of-the-20th-century bildungsroman (look it up). Those people are really missing out on The Dear Hunter. The latest in their six-part occasionally melodramatic, always expertly orchestrated saga, Act III: Life and Death follows the protagonist out of his sex-fueled teenage escapades into the complex world of war and death… and sex. And it’s only $10.

Notably absent from Act III is a catchy single. Act II had “Red Hands” and “Smiling Swine;” except for the album’s only throwaway track, “Go Get Your Gun,” Act III is a significantly more active listen than its predecessor. In keeping with the album’s lyrical theme, the music on Act III is some of the most intricate band leader Casey Crescenzo has written. From the delicate a capella of the opening track, “Writing on a Wall,” to the horns on compositional powerhouse of a successor, “In Cauda Venenum,” to the more conventional instrument selection of “Saved,” Crescenzo consistently proves he is one of the most talented composers in recent memory. Each subsequent listen provides additional insight into the story as much as it does into the multi-layered instrumentation, although the former is generally more rewarding than the latter.

Crescenzo’s already impressive vocal ability has been improving with every release, and with Act III, it’s at an all time high. The multi-part harmonies that grace nearly every song are an absolute pleasure, and his range has only widened. The lyrics, while occasionally wordy, serve Crescenzo’s purpose; as with all concept albums, it is up to the listener to care enough to piece the story together. Whether or not you care that The Boy is shipping off to World War I does not affect the fact that Act III is a sonic masterpiece. As the piano motif, its roots in Act I, closes the album, it brings with it a sense of great coherency. Act III not only marks the halfway point in The Dear Hunter’s story arc, but another milestone in Crescenzo’s technical ability as a songwriter. The idea that he will continue to grow over the subsequent second half of the hexology is a comforting one.

1. Writing On A Wall
2. In Cauda Venenum
3. What It Means To Be Alone
4. The Tank
5. The Poison Woman
6. The Thief
7. Mustard Gas
8. Saved
9. He Said He Had A Story
10. This Beautiful Life
11. Go Get Your Gun
12. Son
13. Father
14. Life And Death

The Dear Hunter is the full-time progressive rock project of Casey Crescenzo, formerly of post-hardcore band The Receiving End of Sirens. The band got its name from the lead character of the story that he wrote to go along with the music. The sound is unlike that of Casey's former band, with musical roots deep-set in the progressive rock genre and utilizing a wider variety of instrumentation.

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