Demon Hunter is one of the leading bands in the Christian metal realm, and they come at us with theirfifth studio album, The World Is A Thorn. Demon Hunter has been making some impressive music ever since their self-titled release back in 2002. They’ve been switching things up just enough album-to-album so that they weren’t treading the same waters as everyone else. One thing they have always had going for them is a really heavy soundthat was alsovery melodic at the same time, which not many metal bands manage pullingoff effectively.
The biggest change for this album is the loss of both of the band’s guitarists, Ethan Luck and Don Clark. They were replaced by Patrick Judge (The Showdown) and Ryan Helm (The Ascendicate), both ofwhom redefine the guitar foundation of the band, taking it to a new level. Previously, Demon Hunter, I wouldsay, neverhad the most outstanding guitar work; it was just always heavy enough and satisfactory enough that you didn’t hate it.However, I never was able toconsider itas anythingabove average.
On this album, though,one will find some solid riffing here and there as well as some technicality that was absent from the band’s past work. You will notice this right off the bat with the solid opener, Descending Upon Us.” The new guitar change also brings us as a few solos here and there which really add a side to the guitar foundation the band has never had before. This quality makes for a really refreshing change on this album.
The rest of the band is just as solid as ever. Yogi Watts continues to tear it up on the drums and Jon Dunn helps fill in the overall heaviness on the bass. Lead vocalist Ryan Clark’s clean vocals sound as good as ever. One of the many things I love about this guy is that he has one of the nicest voices which many metal vocalists cannot pull off. Another plus is that his clean vocals aren’t whiny or pop melodies but he is able to keep the metal edge with his vocals. His screams and his growls are pretty solid but I don’t find them as outstanding as his clean vocals. They do get the job done though and he definitely has some intense growls and brutal screams. I always find it neat how Ryan’s voice is really intense in a song and then drops into a beautiful chorus; it’s an awesome contrast. It’s great that even with Ryan’s smooth clean vocal parts that Demon Hunter doesn’t lose their intensity and heaviness. They’ve been able to keep this going for each album and this one is no different.
Demon Hunter seems to have a pretty consistent formula down with their songs ever since they started as a band but they change things up enough that it doesn’t sound like you’re listening to the same songs again. You can always count on a song that is brutal yet has a great sense of melody one or two ballads and another track that is a battering ram of sound. The song that is heavy yet has a good dose of melody would be the first single “Collapsing.” It kind of reminds me of “Fading Away” from Storm The Gates of Hell but it is pulled off much better and is one of my favorites off the album. The ballads would be “Driving Nails” and “Blood in the Tears” and are just as good as any other Demon Hunter ballad but I didn’t find them as strong as past ones. The brutal song on this album would be the title-track and is one of Demon Hunter’s only songs that has no clean vocals. This track is another highlight of the album and is a nice side to see of Demon Hunter.
AsI said earlier “Descending Upon Us” is a nice opener that’s followed by “Life War.” This is a really repetitive track that is nice to head-bang to but really doesn’t add much to the album. I didhave the pleasure of seeing these guys live and to that song’s credit it is a blast live just not too exciting on the record. Other favorites aside from the ones mentioned above would be “Tie This Around Your Neck” and “Just Breathe.” The other tracks hold up pretty well; they just aren’t as strong as these.They aren’t much of a let down either.
One thing I cannot forget to say about this band is they’re brutally honest and “in your face” with their lyrics. Probably my favorite thing about this band is how upfront they are about their faith and how you should be applying your faith in your life. They don’t hold anything back and don’t sugar coat their message–they say it how it is. This message is delivered forcefully with their heavy music as a backdrop but it goes to show the band isn’t anywhere closeto backing down from what they believe.
Overall if you have loved anything from Demon Hunter before that opinion won’t change here and you may even become a bigger fan. Demon Hunter delivers big here expanding their sound and delivering some of their best work yet. While I think they have a few songs from past work that top individual songs on this album I think this album tops the others in the fact that it has a number of good songs instead of just a few. This is an aggressive brutal honest and melodic album that I recommend you check out. Demon Hunter continues to stand out from a number of other bands in the metal genre by keeping things unique and fresh with their vast amount of talent. If you haven’t checked out this band yet you’re missing out and I suggest you don’t wait any longerto hear what Demon Hunter has to say. The sound may not be everyone’s cup of tea but the message is something all should grab hold of.