Album Review :
Demon Hunter - Storm the Gates of Hell

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Artist: Demon Hunter
Album: Storm the Gates of Hell
Label: Solid State Records
Release Date: November 6, 2007
Review by: Eric Pettersson

Tracklist:
1. Storm the Gates of Hell
2. Lead Us Home
3. Sixteen
4. Fading Away
5. Carry Me Down
6. A Thread of Light
7. I Am You
8. Incision
9. Thorns
10. Follow the Wolves
11. Fiction Kingdom
12. The Wrath of God

Exploding onto the Christian metal scene in 2002 with dark imagery and a shroud of mystery was a band by the name of Demon Hunter. With the Clark brothers having experience in the past with Focal Point and Training for Utopia, these boys were already huge with Solid State fans, but it was Demon Hunter that made them huge in general. They were and have become the bridge in the gap between hard rock and heavy metal. Fans of Pillar, POD, and Project 86 (such as myself) were sucked into this heavier sound that captured the essence of metal without the frantic side that scared the average music fan away from Extol or Zao. And yet, even the metal heads knew they couldn’t spend all their time listening to Living Sacrifice, so when a softer break was needed, Demon Hunter stepped up to the heavy metal plate, and these dudes didn’t even need to listen to another genre to find songs completely filled with melody, top-notch clean vocals, and… well, breakdowns. From that initial self-titled release, Demon Hunter developed this sound, delivering two more fantastic releases until their fourth studio album, Storm the Gates of Hell has now reached our ears as a departure of this sound.

On one hand, artistic liberty can be an incredible thing. Just look at how well Thrice, He Is Legend, The Showdown, and others have done recently by reinventing themselves. On the other hand, one does not play the same style better and better for three albums to suddenly turn around and be influences by younger bands. Yes, this is the sad reality. Demon Hunter is a great melodic metal band, but with Storm the Gates of Hell a strange twist has been added in. Throughout, there are these weird riffs that don’t sound like Demon Hunter. Honestly, they sound more like some new metal band trying to mimic The Devil Wears Prada or Norma Jean. And if this is what Demon Hunter has been reduced to, it may be time for Demon Hunter to say goodnight (although hopefully all they will really have to do is wake up). However, while this does leave a very tainted picture of this record in my mind, those songs are not exactly bad; they just don’t really fit here and are a bit of a disappointment compared to the brilliance of DH’s signature sound. “Carry Me Down” is a perfect track and a perfect example of what this album could and should have been. Starting with slow and melodic clean vocals, it moves into a powerful and heavy chorus. Some of the newer metalcore stuff is cool, like the vocals on the bridge of “A Thread of Light” or the pause and breakdown in “Fading Away,” and I always support bands trying new things, but it just doesn’t make sense for DH to work on their own sound for three records and then when they try something new, it’s trying to sound like everyone else.

With each new record, Project 86 have seriously changed their sound, but they never lost their core P86 feel. And this is what Demon Hunter have done with Storm the Gates of Hell. They did keep the core DH feel, and for that I thank them, but the difference is that (in my opinion) Project’s changes were always creative changes and good changes. I feel that neither of these describe the new DH record. I recommend old fans give it a change anyway though, because there are still many reasons to like this album and you will be able to get into some of it. It just won’t be everything you’d hope it would be. Perhaps my frustrations make this sound like a mostly negative review, which it almost is, but I would be upset to know I kept someone from checking this out. It’s still good music. I’m enjoying jamming to it right now at my laptop, and Ryan’s lyrics are always worthwhile. Plus there’s a sweet solo at the end of “The Wrath of God.” It’s simply that in the end, Storm the Gates of Hell did not live up to expectations.

6/10

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