Album Review – Demon Hunter – Outlive (2017)

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Trying Times is the prelude to the new album. The slow build-up is powerful, yet subtle and inevitably alludes to the contrasting direction of the instrumental composition and narrative of Demon Hunter’s previous album, Extremist (2017); this album already containing a mournful yet, evolving empowerment. It is if the prelude itself is musically describing the current social awakening that we are universally witnessing, after being subdued, and being forced into submission for so long, the world finally waking up. It is done with the progression into the instrumental and lyrical direction of the song as a whole. The percussion grows louder in volume; Ryan Clark’s vocals are filled with determination and hope. Genre-wise, it is a mix-up of melodic metal, doom metal, alternative metal and nu-metal.   The prelude jumps straight into Jesus Wept, an explosive Metalcore with industrial and speed metal variations; it being more punk and death rock tradition, the track being fast paced, jam packed with energy, but short and sweet. The context of the track refers to the verse found in The Gospel of John when Christ was told of the news of disciple Lazarus’ passing, emotionally moved to tears. For the album’s narrative, ‘Jesus wept’ is in reference to the state of the world’s affairs; political unrest and civil war within Abrahamic faiths, indicating that the son of God would weep in despair.

Cold Winter Sun compilates metalcore, speed, power, melodic and nu-metal for its intensity, yet fantastical melancholy, for it carries the instrumental quality of ann internal mythological story; a tale of good and evil, but throws in doses of reality, reminding its listeners that the battle of good and evil are unfolding in their world, and cannot dismiss it as fiction. Died in my Sleep is unexpectedly different from the tracks that came before because it interchanges from the brief interlude of indietronica, and subsequently, ends with the same indietronica section; shattering into melodic speed metal and djent in between; relaying an apocalyptic world where only so few are awakened to the reality around them. Spiritually, Died in my Sleep is a companion piece to Trying Times.

Half as Dead morphs into alternative metal doom metal and djent; lyrically exploring the philosophical approach that in passing, how one lives their lives speaks volumes. That dying after a fulfilled life, even if that life is short, is better than living one’s life with an already damaged, numb soul; or wasting your life away just accepting what is front of you, and not exploring other possibilities. Cold Blood aggressively alternates between modern nu-metal, djent and Metalcore; channelling their peers Slipknot with Clark snarling out angrily about war, murder and blood lust, with only clean vocals appearing in the chorus. The track comes to an abrupt end with the last few seconds distorting into white noise.

One Step Behind transports itself away from the harsh tones of Metalcore and djent, to instead adventure towards melodic /alternative metal, symphonic rock with indietronica stimulus, capturing the spirit of Katatonia and RED, only more uplifting, despite the saddening lyrical content. Raining Down encirclements melodic metal, electronic metal and trance; the second track of the album to enclose a biblical or mythological subject, this time of the Great Flood. In this instance, a warning to prepare for a second flooding during the start of the traditionally described apocalypse.

The End retreats back to harsher genres, inclusively alternative metal, djent, heavy metal and hard rock, encompassing  the destructive emotions of heartbreak and betrayal, internalising blame for the events that happened to the protagonist, within the lyrics and musical conformation.  As a result, the song travels through the emotional journey of recovery and redemption. The minutes leading to the end are very much reminiscent of Nickelback’s distinctive guitar chugs, and similar to Bottom’s Up from Dark Horse (2008), implying a possible sampling. One Less implodes speedily into speed, death, thrash and nu-metal, with a dash of Metalcore for Clark’s mixture of traditional growls, snarls and then screams, and industrial metal. Whether it is intentional, Demon Hunter seems to mimic a lot of the charisma and delivery found in Motionless in White, a modern Metalcore/industrial metal peer.

Patience for the briefest moment opens as a saddened gothic symphonic metal, possessing the mournful Nightwish, Evanescence, Within Temptation and The Rasmus; before conjuring back to their roots, the transition smooth, yet fast paced as they venture into the depths of Metalcore, doom metal and alternative metal. There are undercurrents of the theatric/alternative rock band Poets of the Fall, in the emotive profundity of the instrumental and lyrical delivery; the albums Revolution Roulette (2008), Twilight Theatre (2010) and Jealous Gods (2014) being prominent evaluations.  Slight the Odds the last track of the album falls into the category of folk rock at first, before fading into speed and thrash metal, blending the traditional orchestra into subliminal notes as the electronic guitars and drums replicate them. Halfway, they inject once more Metalcore and melodic metal, with moments of post-hardcore, before ending on a more classical note, reverting back to traditional folk music.

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