Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Review: Demon Hunter - True Defiance

 Seattle's Demon Hunter have always been the kind of band to put on a constantly solid and brutal metal performance, the kind that the New Wave of American Heavy Metal was always looking for in the late 90s and early 2000s when nu metal was entering it's phase in which it had to become more ridiculous and over-the-top to obtain any kind of relevance. And with their pulsing form of melodic metalcore that frontman Ryan Clark claims is influenced every bit as much by Coldplay, Radiohead and Elbow as it is by Metallica, Pantera and Prong. On their latest offering True Defiance, the solidity is upheld... for a bit.

 As a fan of spending time in moshpits during metallic breakdowns, the album's packed with golden moments for such breathtaking tomfoolery. The frantic buildup on opener Crucifix into the rapid display of jagged hardcore riffing from new axeman Jeremiah Scott, that packs with it a furious roughness and energetic pulse. This crunching metalcore serves as the highlights of the album, with juddering breakdowns of God Forsaken, Someone to Hate and We Don't Care maintaining such a breathtaking excitement and with a greater focus on melody than their various metalcore peers in Hatebreed and Throwdown meaning the massive choruses of God Forsaken and Wake also manage to have a gripping unity and internal power, as the group show they're worth more than just headbanging mindlessly to.
 This style is definitely a strength of Demon Hunter and across the album, they definitely don't play to it. Loading up the album with ballads like Tomorrow Never Comes, Dead Flowers and I Am a Stone, the band like to see that they balance out their pulsing metalcore performance with weak, tired performances, crafted in an utterly lifeless generic style which makes the ballad composition skills of Five Finger Death Punch look like those of Simon & Garfunkel.
 The other problem that I and probably many others have is the also weakened production of the album, making the entire performance feel watered down. Mainly, the sound is overall quieter, which may not seem that bad, but it really prevents the band from reaching their full potential, even on the best tracks on the album. This is why Hatebreed and Throwdown are ultimately better bands. They have their full extremity recorded.
 So, a bit of a hit and miss of an album is to be found on True Defiance. Sure the ability to create moshpit fillers is at a tee and attending a live show of theirs would still be a thrilling proposition, but perhaps it's best if they play to their strengths a bit more. Honestly, does the world of metalcore need generic ballads? That's what we have big stadium shows for middle aged woman to attend for.

 Demon Hunter's True Defiance is out now via Solid State Records.

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