By Rosie Walker
Conceived by brothers Ryan and Don Clark in 2000, Demon Hunter is a force to be reckoned in the American metal scene. 17 years ago the brothers emerged from the grunge capital of Seattle, to beget a band the combined hardcore, metalcore, and deathcore. They triggered a lot of interest in their early years and continue to do so today. They manage to mould music in new, inventive ways and have a fascinating, dedicated fan base. Demon Hunter’s devotees rejoiced when the band announced their eighth studio album, ‘Outlive’. After being relatively quite for a couple of years, the band is back and is making waves with their new release.
The record opens with the sound of stately, distant drumming. The ominous banging elevates the poignant, ethereal vocals of Ryan Clark when they kick in, triggering an enticing vibe that remains throughout the whole album. ‘Trying Times’ dramatically tugs at the heart strings as it builds in power, stirring up various emotions and sensitivities. While seamlessly slipping into the next track, ‘Jesus Wept,’ the emotional high continues. The song stirs speed and deathcore together, creating a delicious cocktail of nasty riffs and fat grooves. Even their early metalcore roots sneak into this track and it is all held together by Yogi Watts’ healthy hard-hitting drumming. His powerful pounding gives the band a strong, driving force and relentless energy.
‘Cold Winter Sun’ shines in sound as it opens with that classic Demon Hunter tone. The vigorous, buzzing melodies waft off the ferocious riffs of guitarists Patrick Judge and Jeremiah Scott. The vocals are slightly buried and heavily processed in the mix, giving a very ambient, almost fantastical feel to the album. The groove and catchy chorus is the rouge on the cheek of the song, highlighting the heftiness and pop element in its sound.
‘Died in My Sleep,’ ‘One Step Behind,’ and ‘Raining Down’ are tracks sprinkled throughout the album that have some robust, enthusiastic electronic influences, slightly reminiscent of the modern-day In Flames sound. The riffs are still there, but layered into a cake of synths and melody, very catchy and very European, with some guitar shredding, keyboards, and melancholy overtones making the band sound like straight out of Scandinavia.
We hit the middle of the album with the track ’Cold Blood’. A trio of punk, groove, and melody is displayed with deliberate and distinguished playing. The density of the song is gifted by bass player Johnathan Dunn, plus Ryan’s raspy yet ambient vocals sew up the creative seams in the song. The brutal, aggressive edge continues on the track, ‘One Less’. The number hits hard with the swing of the bass and grit of guitar. It throws back to the sound of their album ’Summer in Darkness’, capturing that real dark, agitated sound.
The variance on ‘Outlive’ is notable. The last two songs on this 12-track record are very atmospheric, soul stirring numbers. You shift gears on ‘Patience’ when the song opens with a somber piano playing that hauntingly builds into a wistful movement that each member devises with precision and articulation. They paint a tapestry with their varied sounds of angst and heart. A mournful beauty is structured from their ripened riffs and constant groove. The last song, ‘Slight the Odds’ divulges thought-provoking lyrics that add substance to their sweet, sincere sound. Maneuvering into a major key, the album ends on a hopeful note and leaves the listener feeling fed.
The weight of Demon Hunter’s classic sound mixed with the inventive, whimsical synths makes this album enjoyable and engaging. This band has been around the block a few times, yet they are just as present and passionate as they ever were. ‘Outlive’ might not start a mosh pit with all its atmospheric elegance, but it still serenades the senses, and is well worth a listen.
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Record Label: Solid State
Release Date: March 31st 2017
01. Trying Times (2:23)
02. Jesus Wept (2:45)
03. Cold Winter Sun (3:26)
04. Died In My Sleep (4:44)
05. Half As Dead (4:00)
06. Cold Blood (4:26)
07. One Step Behind (5:09)
08. Raining Down (3:44)
09. The End (4:40)
10. One Less (3:25)
11. Patience (5:20)
12. Slight The Odds (6:01)
Total Duration: 50:03