Album Review :
Demon Hunter - True Defiance

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Artist: Demon Hunter
Title: True Defiance
Label: Solid State Records
Release Date: 4/10/12
Reviewer: Taylor C.

Tracklisting:

  1. Crucifix
  2. God Forsaken
  3. My Destiny
  4. Wake
  5. Tomorrow Never Comes
  6. Someone To Hate
  7. This I Know
  8. Means To An End
  9. We Don’t Care
  10. Resistance
  11. Dead Flowers
  12. Bonus: What Is Left
  13. Bonus: I Am A Stone

I’ve been an aficionado of Demon Hunter for several years now because, like many other fans, I was introduced to the realm of “Christian metal” through their music. However, I’ve long since drifted away from the hardcore-rock genre and, quite honestly, anything with this much clean singing, but there’s something about Demon Hunter that always keeps me coming back. Even with their recent guitarist shuffle, Ryan Clark makes sure that True Defiance is loyal to that standard Demon Hunter blueprint while offering enough fresh and interesting sounds to demonstrate that the band is never done growing.

To put it simply, True Defiance is a Demon Hunter record. If you know anything about the band, you know what this means. The album is primarily a combination of hardcore and metalcore mixed with melodic elements—with cleans complimenting screams, the artwork an awesome representation of the classic DH logo, and the lyrics dealing with spiritual warfare, mortality, and life in general. As a band, they don’t return to their “Self-Titled” sound and they don’t throw in a little Training for Utopia; this isn’t an addition to any single record, it’s Demon Hunter building on what they’ve already done, and experimenting within the parameters of the genre that they’ve mastered. Six records into their career, it’s clear to see how each release strictly builds on and develops from the last. If anything, True Defiance proves that Demon Hunter does not devolve.

The record fires first with “Crucifix,” one of the heaviest and fastest tracks on the album. It begins with a raw recording of what sounds like a jam session in a garage which soon breaks into the polished song. The song itself proves to be longer, more structured and more meticulous than the last few heavy songs that the band delivered—namely, “Storm the Gates of Hell” and “The World is a Thorn”—which were often loud, fast and chaotic, but extremely condensed.

All of tracks of the album stand out individually, but the first to truly catch my attention as a game-changer was “My Destiny,” a song whose Swedish melodeath influence is a good example of the band’s musical development. If you can scrub your mind clean of the skateboard imagery provided by their recent music video, you will appreciate the melodic riffs accompanied by Clark’s high snarls, both of which are a huge improvement since TWIAT‘s “This Is The Line.” The song’s only vice is that the cleans of the chorus eventually dominate whatever violent energy the track began with (but with a singing voice like Clark’s, it hardly matters).

“Someone To Hate,” with its fair share of heavy riffs, chuggy breakdowns and clean choruses, is another addition to DH’s spiritual warfare songs. The lyrics are about being comfortable in one’s beliefs despite a world of opposition. Complete with blast beats, guitar solos and breakdowns, the rising tension eventually ends with a crash (á la “Not Ready To Die”), serving as a great transition into “This I Know,” whose similar lyrical motifs feels more like an ongoing part II. The next track cools us down with “Means To An End,” Demon Hunter’s first instrumental (not counting the 45 Days Sountrack).

One prominent aspect about True Defiance is how the lyrics, driven heavily by images and specific concepts, are reflected in the music’s atmosphere. For example, in “Resistance,” the tempo is much slower than the aggressive “Someone To Hate.” That’s a battle song on offense—this song is on defense. The lyrics are about resisting God… a theme that works extremely well with the song’s dark riffs, background growls and calm but confusing cadence. In this song, along with the apathetic “We Don’t Care,” the listener is taken behind enemy lines to actually show what Demon Hunter is hunting in the first place.

The final songs that have to be mentioned are the expected Demon Hunter ballads. “Tomorrow Never Comes” returns to that melancholy sound of The Triptych while mixing the more uplifting melodies of TWIAT. And while “Dead Flowers” steals the show with its beautiful imagery, themes of rebirth, catchy chorus, and faultless incorporation of Judge’s guitar solo, the bonus, orchestral string track “I Am A Stone” really makes the deluxe edition worth buying. The second bonus is the mid-tempo, ballad/anti-ballad song “What Is Left.” The drums weren’t particularly noticeable on this record, but Yogi really shines here.

Overall: True Defiance is solid release from Demon Hunter that I highly recommend. The music, vocals, lyrics, and production provide listeners with that classic Demon Hunter sound with enough experimentation to keep things exciting. Also, make sure you purchase the deluxe edition, because the bonus tracks are way too good to pass up.

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