Even in the wake of the band's greatest career triumph, the group's members faced their greatest personal challenges. In the handful of years since Extremist enjoyed the band's largest first week sales debut (at #16 on the Billboard 200 with roughly 18,000 sold) and produced the SiriusXM radio hit "The Last One Alive" and the somber "I Will Fail You," Demon Hunter survived through nearly crippling adversity.
But their personal hardship and private struggle resulted in a renewed strength, embodied in sound and spirit on their eighth album, Outlive.
"In many ways, it feels like the five of us have done more living in these last couple of years than in the entire decade prior," observes frontman, primary songwriter and founding member Ryan Clark. "Four of us became first time fathers and entering that amazing yet stressful phase of life together has brought us even closer, he adds." Between the insanity of parenthood and a variety of other more difficult scenarios, all as the world-at-large seemingly crumbles around us, there was certainly no shortage of content to explore on this album."
Outlive tracks like "Cold Winter Sun," "Died in My Sleep" and "Half As Dead" are among the latest melodic metal mission statements in an arsenal rich with sonic diversity, melodic depth, and authentic passion.
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Lasting Mastery| Posted March 31, 2017
Demon Hunter has long been one of the most established, if enigmatic, forces in hard rock. Their influence is so unparalleled that they have maintained the ability to fall off the map for a year or two at a time and then return to a fanbase still as tuned-in and dedicated as ever. The latest return of Demon Hunter, following one of their longest gaps yet without new music, comes in the form of Outlive: a searingly heavy masterpiece backed by the loyal fans and released with Demon Hunter's longtime partners at Solid State Records.
Pre-released songs like the eerie "Cold Winter Sun" and "Died In My Sleep" are the best of the Demon Hunter sound, crushing riffs and ethereal choruses demonstrating why it is that they've been a cornerstone of their genre for over 15 years. "Died In My Sleep" also shows however that they're not resistant to change, as electronic threads weave their way through a flurry of guitar riffs.
That electronic thread is picked up in "One Step Behind" also as Ryan Clark's vocals sing like a prayer: "Breathe in, breathe out the light / And leave your shadow behind / For this day your pain is mine / So let me carry the weight." The ability to utilize synthesized elements, or later the symphonic strings that introduce end times epic "Slight the Odds," prove Demon Hunter's refusal to settle into the "heavy just for heaviness' sake" trap that many metalcore acts can fall prey to.
Make no mistake however: this is one of the most unabashedly heavy albums to release yet this year. "One Less" reminds of Summer of Darkness-era Demon Hunter with its scratched-out screams and fierce defiance of the dark and demonic. "Cold Blood" is full of the visceral imagery that has so often infused Demon Hunter's work with gut-punching power.
Thematically, the album doesn't let up either. "Jesus Wept" instantly wins a place as one of Demon Hunter's best songs of all time, confessing sin and pleading for salvation, furiously mourning "I'm why Jesus wept." The lyrics of "Patience" are rife with relational tension, introduced by a chilling piano riff eventually picked up by Patrick Judge's crushing guitar. "Raining Down," one of the most musically accessible tracks here, recognizes the inevitability of pain. "The End" pleads for reassurance amid spiritual death and rebirth.
The Bottom Line: With Outlive, Demon Hunter has created a heavy masterpiece devoid of filler tracks, beautifully executing every element that has made them one of the best metalcore acts of our time. Initial listens will captivate fans with the controlled chaos of hard rock mastery, while further sessions will provide spiritual depths to explore.
Song to Download Now:
"Jesus Wept" (Get it on iTunes here.)