Thanks to the visibility of Jill Scott, Beanie Sigel, Eve, and the Roots, Philadelphia has had a reputation for being an R&B/hip-hop kind of town -- at least that's how many music industry people who don't live there perceive the city. But rockers who actually have Philly addresses know that it has a great deal of rock activity -- everything from Shawn Colvin-ish singer/songwriters to Creed-minded post-grunge outfits to a band as extreme and over-the-top as A Life Once Lost. Hunter points to the fact that A Life Once Lost represents the lunatic fringe of Philly rock. These guys play metalcore -- nasty, harsh, head-crushing, incredibly abrasive stuff that goes right for the jugular and does so without mercy. The vocals are tortured screams (a main ingredient of metalcore), and the band's use of density gives Hunter a suffocating, claustrophobic quality (another thing metalcore is known for). Hunter isn't the hooky metalcore of Hatebreed, Throwdown, or Chimaira; this album is more in the technical metalcore vein and is stylistically closer to Meshuggah. Hunter won't win a lot of awards for originality or for variety; this 36-minute disc is fairly predictable. But while Hunter isn't spectacular or mind-blowing, it's still a decent example of the hammer-to-the-skull aesthetic. This 2005 release is an exercise in brutality for the sake of brutality, and despite the album's limitations, ALOL's material is good for some catharsis in the mosh pit -- at least if one has a taste for the extreme. Neither the best nor the worst that metalcore has to offer, Hunter won't go in history as an essential metalcore purchase of 2005 but isn't anything to be ashamed of either.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson