Review Summary: Demon Hunter’s fourth album is a mixed bag of improvement and regression, and the overall quality is about the same as their last release (if not just a little below it).
Demon Hunter is:
Ryan Clark – Vocals
Don Clark – Guitar
Ethan Luck – Lead Guitar
Jonathan Dunn – Bass
Timothy “Yogi” Watts - Drums
With every new release, a band faces the question of what to do with their sound. How will they change? Or will they change at all? Will they progress, or get worse? The results can either be:
A) They will progress and get better
B) They will stay almost exactly the same
or C) They will get worse
So what has the melodic metalcore band Demon Hunter done with their fourth full-length album? The answer is a mix of all three. They try several new things, and succeed at nearly all of it.
But whereas the addition of lead guitar parts to their last release was quite an improvement, for some reason the guitars on this album have gone backwards. While Ethan and Don have never matched the technicality of a band like Killswitch Engage or Unearth, the Triptych showcased a lot of nice leads and two full-on solos. Even though they’ve bumped up the number of solos to three, too much of this album is composed of uninspired palm-muting. As a whole, though, the guitar work here is not too much lower than the previous album.
As with the previous openers, the title track is fast and brutal, pummeling you with DH’s take on metalcore. Unlike previous openers, however, there is no sung chorus in this song; in fact the only clean vocals in it are a few spoken phrases in the bridge before the breakdown. All in all a pretty good opener, but the best is yet to come.
is probably the best song on this album, if not of their career. It begins with dark, somber strings that will probably make one expect a ballad that the band does so well.
But before too long the guitar and drums come in pounding. This all goes into a quick, almost punk-ish riff, which continues for about 25 seconds while the strings continue to play in the background. Then, in true DH form, a quick grunt from Ryan lets loose a monster guitar riff. The pre-chorus contains guest vocals from Bruce Fitzgugh of Living Sacrifice (Still one of the top Christian metal bands past or present, and one whose place in Christian metal Demon Hunter has said they want to fill. Also cool on a personal note, because part of an email I once sent the band said they should have him do guest vocals). After the sung chorus, verse and repeated chorus, a short but sweet guitar solo tops the song, which would certainly be a better single than Fading Away
, which follows it.
While I personally find nothing really wrong with the single, it is one of three slower songs on the CD, and even though it’s definitely the fastest or most energetic of the slower songs they’ve done, the song is definitely not a good representation of what one should expect. (Think "The Arms of Sorrow" from Killswitch Engage). The lyrics are also rather plain, especially when compared to much of Clark's better songs.
Another (pretty well done) ballad of the album, Carry Me Down
follows it, and things slow down only once more for another standout track, Thorns
Several songs feature some experimentation with electronics, strings and piano, while also switching up the screamed verse, sung chorus formula once (see Follow the Wolves
). Ryan's screaming sounds a little bad, probably because he's been doing "extreme" vocals for many years.
The bottom line: It’s pretty unlikely that Storm the Gates of Hell
will win over any new fans, but it should please those anticipating its release. They try some new things and succeed, but the quality of the guitars has gone down (although not by too much). All in all, I’d say it’s at or just below the quality of their last release.
-Not much has changed
-The vocals and lyrics are excellent as always
-Subtle experimentation, and some songs that not really like anything done before
-Not much has changed
-The guitar work has gone backwards from their previous release
-Bad choice for first single
Storm the Gates of Hell
Carry Me Down
I Am You