Demon Hunter



by Branden William Byrd USER (12 Reviews)
April 29th, 2017 | 4 replies

Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Demon Hunter take a few steps forward and few steps back on Outlive, and they aren't all for the better.

I thought I'd died in my sleep the day I woke up to the news that the band that got me into metal permanently were coming out with a new album. I knew it was going to be good. I knew that even if it turned out to be their weakest album, it would still be fantastic, as even their weakest efforts from before were still mind blowing. But goodness wasn't my only expectation. I expected greatness. I expected something that wouldn't be among their weakest albums. I expected an album that would push Demon Hunter further into the melodeth territory they have been eagerly dashing into since The World is a Thorn. I expected that even after I thought they had mastered this sound on their three latest releases, they would find a way to improve upon it and make something more technical, more crushing, more varied, more everything. I expected more. Nothing less.

I finally got a taste of this album with the release of "Cold Winter Sun," and right then, I knew I was partially right. It was unquestionably a melodeth track, with the same clear influences from bands such as Soilwork and Scar Symmetry the band has been flaunting for the past few years. I was wrong about everything else. This song was not more. This song felt like an offbranded version of a song such as "My Destiny" or "Artifical Light." It was a step back in the band's evolution, however it did show a major step forward for singer Ryan Clark... a step forward not in vocal ability, but in age. His screams lacked the passion they were previously filled with. His cleans were not as powerful and emotionally driven as they very much were on albums such as Storm the Gates of Hell and True Defiance. He struggled to sing notes that he once didn't even have to try to sing. I didn't get what I was looking for until I heard "Died in My Sleep" and "Half as Dead." These two songs both kicked my ass not as much as I expected them to, but enough to make me want to listen to them at least a few times every day. Both songs featured entirely clean vocal performances by Clark, and neither of them disappointed at all. The fire in his voice I had heard before was back, and the punchy, groovy production and cooperation between the guitars and drums made for songs that while not traditionally heavy, were very energetic and a hell of a time to listen to. This definitely reset my expectations, because I knew that the singles couldn't be the best songs on the album. I knew they had something better in store, and so I waited...

The morning this album came out, I listened to it immediately. Loathe to admit it, my observation from when I heard Cold Winter Sun still stood: this album was not more. It was less than anything I had yet heard from Demon Hunter, and while this isn't too difficult to understand considering how great of a discography the band has under their belt, I still felt underwhelmed. I will admit, it did grow on me over time, but as the good grew on me, so did the bad. It was all over the place in ways that are almost impossible to explain. Outlive is without a doubt entertaining, but it leaves a lot to be discussed.

First off, this album is Demon Hunter's softest to date. Many of the songs consist of multi-tracked clean vocals entirely, and electronics are very prominently used on this album (see "Trying Times" and "Died in My Sleep"). These are most likely consequences of Ryan Clark's involvement with the electronic project NYVES, and while these influences can at times work to the album's detriment, they give some songs (most notably "Died in My Sleep") a sort of Dark Tranquillity vibe, and this leads to another strange observation that can be made: this is Demon Hunter's most melodeth influenced and most alternative rock influenced album yet. The sound on this album is without a doubt unique in how it blurs the line between Soilwork and bands like Chevelle and even Korn (see "Cold Blood.") Each song feels Soilwork-y enough that you could imagine Bjorn Speed Strid on vocals, but alternative enough that it could appear on the next album by Disturbed or Gemini Syndrome. This is of course not to say that Outlive is without any heaviness. "Jesus Wept" is an all out thrasher with an entirely unclean vocal performance, and "One Less" follows suit. However, neither of these songs live up to the heaviness of previous Demon Hunter tracks such as "Cross to Bear" and "Someone to Hate." In fact, "One Less" basically is just a weaker version of "The Awakening" from Summer of Darkness. While they are a relief to hear, they do lack productionally and are all around pretty underwhelming.

Easily the standout track from this album is "Cold Blood," which recalls much of the band's earlier material. The riff on this song has an overwhelming Summer of Darkness vibe to it, and the chorus is a much welcome throwback to classic songs such as "Lead us Home" and "Not Ready to Die." The song also works in a guitar solo that really adds to the overall atmosphere and shows that the band has in fact evolved, but still know how to rock just like the old days. It's a deviation from the form of this album that I wish hadn't been the only one. Other fantastic songs include "Died in my Sleep," "Half as Dead," "Slight The Odds," and "One Step Behind." The intro track "Trying Times" is fantastic as well. On the other end, "The End" is a very weak, forgettable track that adds very little to the album, and "Cold Winter Sun" is an atrocious mess from every approachable angle.

All in all, Outlive is a good release by a band that can do much better. It's still a hell of an album, and it definitely beats everything most alternative and metalcore bands are putting out nowadays. But for a band that has the potential to rival Solution .45 and Disarmonia Mundi, being better than bands like Volbeat should be a given, not an expectation. I still have faith that Demon Hunter have it in them to release an almighty behemoth of an album that will make Extremist look like child's play. But only through criticism of their work and discussion of their shortcomings can they be motivated to put their all into making such a thing. For now though, Outlive is enjoyable for what it is, but definitely something that can be improved upon.

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user ratings (155)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 30th 2017


Album is alright. It was kinda good and not good. Not sure on the rating.

May 1st 2017


how can someone who is not a verm alt have that bad of a username

Contributing Reviewer
May 1st 2017


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Review was kind of odd. You made a shit ton of comparisons to other bands in the last paragraph, saying how they should "exceed Volbeat" which is just overall a pointless thought to add in there, especially because not everyone here listens to Volbeat. Also blatant fanboyism kind of consumes the first paragraph. Once you actually get into the meat and potatoes of the album you do a relatively good job describing the album so pos.

Also Slight the Odds is fucking amazing as well as One Step Behind. The rest is fairly boring.

May 1st 2017


Album Rating: 3.5

I thought "Jesus Wept" was pretty dope too.

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