Review Summary: Demon Hunter have aged, but they haven’t lost a shred of their ambition or self-confidence.
Double albums are interesting. When factoring in how tough of a sell they can truly be, they take quite a bit of confidence in one’s craft to even think about going forward with. Releasing multiple albums within the span of about one or two years is a surefire sign that the band are ambitious enough and feel confident enough about their work to pull it off. The drawback？ Well, double albums can stretch bands thin and leave listeners wondering why they didn’t cut the weaker tracks entirely to create a superior album instead. What makes War
such an intriguing effort is that while some moments could have used refinement, Demon Hunter have largely avoided the issue of bloat that projects like this can suffer from. As expected, War
is the heavier piece of the puzzle, as it bears more similarities to their pre-True Defiance
material while retaining the refined sense of melody found on albums like Extremist
On the other side of the aisle lies Peace
, which features a far more subtle side of the band that we haven’t really seen to this degree until now. The band’s focus on this half is not so much their tried-and-true aggressive writing but rather the more atmospheric elements they’ve been working in for the last few albums. Opener “More Than Bones” should tell you this right away; while it could have worked as a softer cut off True Defiance
, the inclusion of a synth line sets it apart from previous work. This take on their formula continues with songs like “When the Devil Come”, “Bet My Life”, and “I Don’t Believe You”. The synth-driven “Recuse Myself” sounds like if “I Will Fail You” was filtered through the lens of Blue Stahli and given a fresh coat of paint. Not every song does as well at painting a peaceful picture though, as the title track “Peace” isn’t quite up to the task when it comes to capturing the essence of the album, and “Loneliness” feels almost like a B-side that could have been traded in for an interlude of sorts.
In contrast to War
shows a more tranquil side of the band, serving to accent the dynamic of the project. That’s not to say there aren’t heavier moments on this album; “Time Only Takes” and “Two Ways” could have fit on the latest album from All That Remains, and “More Than Bones” builds up to a heavier breakdown, for examples. However, while the album still contains plenty of sections that throw the more hardcore listeners a bone, they’re fewer and further between. Singer Ryan Clark trades in his usual scream-sing dynamic for a much softer performance, somewhat similar to the vocals from a post-Discouraged Ones
Katatonia album. On the instrumental side of the album, guitarists Jeremiah Scott and Patrick Judge trade in their blistering metallic fury from War
for what seems to be a more developed version of what they’ve already done with the slower material off Extremist
. Their drummer doesn’t miss a beat either; Tim Watts may not be up there with the likes of Alex Bent, Luke Holland, or Daniel Furnari, but he can hold his own just like he did in years’ past.
It’s plausible to argue that Peace
is a bit of a regression musically, not only from its counterpart War
but also much of their pre-Outlive
material. Despite that, Demon Hunter manages to make it just as worthwhile of a listen as its ferocious twin brother. Whether it’s the gloomy pondering of “When the Devil Come” or the more tranquil yet somehow uplifting closer “Fear Is Not My Guide”, there’s plenty to offer on Peace.
Aside from maybe “Loneliness”, nothing quite qualifies as filler, as every song serves its purpose in its own unique way. It’s not the opus that such a daring effort would suggest, but it’s a solid ten-track chunk of melodic metal mixed with a doubleshot of electronic ambience. I don’t know everything, but this much is true: Demon Hunter have aged, but they haven’t lost a shred of their ambition or self-confidence.