Released: 2005, Mausoleum Records
Yet another Swedish band, Prey was formed by four life-long rock dogs, led by guitarist Thomas Nystroem (vocals/guitars) and Peter Baeke (bass) who decided to play heavy metal after being heavily influenced by the likes of Scorpions, Accept, Saxon, and Whitesnake at an early age. It took many years and many different bands, but with the additions of Fredrik Plahn on keyboards and Yngwie Malmsteen skin-basher Patrick Johansson on drums, they finally had a lineup they felt was good enough, and shopped themselves around, finally signing with Mausoleum records. THE HUNTER is their debut.
It’s immediately obvious from the opening riffs of “Fault-Line” that THE HUNTER is going to be a melodic metal ride destined straight for the heart of 1986. Smooth melodic vocals, clean, catchy riffs topped with washes of keyboards, and all kinds of unabashedly cliché lyrics and song structures are Prey’s specialty, and they fire off song after hook-filled song of them. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! No, the music here is definitely catchy, and the band has obviously learned their craft from the masters. Whether this interests you or not will depend on your tolerance for commercial-sounding metal.
As I said, Nystroem’s vocals smooth and clear, ringing out melody lines that would have had girls falling all over themselves in the ‘80s. He also knows exactly when to crank the distortion on his guitar for maximum effect. All the while, the rest of the band fill out their assigned duties admirably, contributing the silky backing vocals where required. If it all sounds slightly clinical, that’s because it is. The band knows what they’re doing, that’s for sure, but there isn’t much passion in it. It could be the fault of the powerless production, I don’t know, but a little more emotion and punch would benefit them greatly.
With Prey, you know what you’re in for, and they deliver it proudly. Metalheads looking for a little nostalgia, or something to get their girlfriends into would do well to check out THE HUNTER. It’s as solid a sample of melodic metal as you’re likely to find.