When Metal is in Your Blood: A Review of “Extremist (Deluxe Edition)” by DEMON HUNTER

Line-up
Ryan Clark – Vocals
Jeremiah Scott – Guitars
Patrick Judge – Guitars
Jonathan Dunn – Bass
Yogi Watts – Drums

Track List
1. Death
2. Artificial Light
3. What I’m Not
4. The Last One Alive
5. I Will Fail You
6. One Last Song
7. Cross to Bear
8. Hell Don’t Need Me
9. In Time
10. Beyond Me
11. The Heart of a Graveyard
12. Waste Me (bonus track)
13. Helpless Hope (bonus track)

Deluxe Edition Artwork

Deluxe Edition Artwork

Demon Hunter released their first album way back in 2002 after forming from the ashes of TRAINING FOR UTOPIA. In the 12 years since their arrival, DEMON HUNTER have released 6 full-length original releases; Extremist is the band’s seventh release. The deluxe edition of Extremist comes in a bound hardcopy book with full lyrics and explanations, full album with bonus tracks, a DVD and a vinyl with two acoustic tracks from the album.

In a recent interview with HM Magazine, Ryan Clark mentioned that he views his band as entering a new creative chapter every two releases. So, with this in mind, True Defiance then becomes The World Is A Thorn, Part II. When I read that statement and rethink how the band has progressed, I can certainly see what Clark is talking about. With the last two albums, DEMON HUNTER really transcended the genre through powerful rhythm, righteous shredding, and the perfect balance of Ryan’s snarling growls and clean vocals. So then question for me was; How will DEMON HUNTER’s sound have changed to signal the beginning of a new two-album chapter?

The answer, in part, can be found in the band’s change in the writing and recording process. I won’t go into detail here, but Clark explains this in his interview with HM Magazine in detail and it also is laid out in the book received with the deluxe edition of the album. In summary, the recording was done in two parts separating the clean vocals and the heavy as well as tracking drums very last and leaving the guitars to be tracked well after the vocals had finished.

Extremist’s opening track, “Death” introduces the album with some very cool and ominus chanting and the sound of pages from the Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible being torn out (which is shown in the DVD). When this builds and you’re welcomed with your first taste of DEMON HUNTER in two years, you are not dissappointed. My eyes quite literally popped with how good it sounded. Ryan’s snarling is better than ever – this may be contributed to the heavy vocals being recorded with Jeremiah Scott instead of the long serving Aaron Sprinke – and the energy from the rest of guys is evident immediatley. I won’t do a song-by-song breakdown, but you can see the flow of the album from the tracklist in terms of songs already in the ether.

Whilst “Death” is what I call eye-poppingly metal, the rest of the album is spread with more balanced song writing. The already released “Last One Alive” and “I Will Fail You” paint a pretty accurate picture of what to expect from the full album’s spread of songs. Personally, I love the song “Cross to Bear” due to it’s heavier notes and straight up challenge it sets up for people. I am also a huge fan of the song “Gasoline”; it’s not the heaviest, but the way the song is structured to mirror the intended message is perfect. A great back-handed promise as per Ryan’s lyrical notes. Check it out for yourself when you get the CD.

Overall, Extremist comes accross as more refined when compared with Thorn and Defiance. By refined, I mean less aggressive and not in a bad way. Normally, I would find this discouraging, but I have found myself more engaged in the material here then I have been in past albums. Where DEMON HUNTER would cut loose with guitar shred-fests on tracks like “Resistance” from True Defiance, they’ve been more deliberate in the album’s flow here. I have much more of a sense of flow and context with the album than on previous albums. This, I feel, is also demonstrated through the involvement of some instrumenal elements as the album progresses. What stands out here is the use of synth the bind some songs together. It’s only noticable a little at the beginning of the album, but as the near teh end the synth element appears more and more to great effect. I expecially love the use of the synth in the bonus track, “Waste Me”. Also one of my favourites at this point.

My Rating
5 stars out of 5 stars
How could I ever consider a lower rating? DEMON HUNTER have been a staple in the Christian metal world since before I started discovering it. They have forever been redfining themselves musically without ever losing their identity. The metal is in their blood as one of Ryan’s comments from the booklet illistrate in the notes for “One Last Song”; “For me, making music goes beyond a compultion or desire. There’s something about it that feels overwhelmingly necessary. I’ve been extremeley blessed to create music throughout the past two decades, and I am forever grateful to those that have appreciated it. It’s something that I hope to be able to do for the rest of my life. I think that if I were to stop, a part of me would feel incomplete. This song is a hope for perpetual inspiration… that no song would ever be the last.”
DEMON HUNTER continue to be a class act and one that is near impossible to better.

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