Demon Hunter – War (Solid State Records)Friday, 22nd February 2019
Putting together one album is usually tricky enough, but putting out two releases side by side is something more rare – requiring a bit of cunning. With War and Peace releasing on the same day, the split between the two releases seems more logical for a band of Demon Hunter’s stature. Of the two, War is the more conventional of the two, and serves up some solid tunes that lean towards the band’s more aggressive side.
The interesting thing about War is how it takes the usual Demon Hunter formula, and bypasses the softer, ballad-esque side of the band (saved for the Peace album of course). It’s not that there are no clean vocals to behold within the album, as they are still employed in almost every song, but the ‘flow’ of the album is never relinquished. While the tempos will still vary, and there’s a few unexpectedly pleasant surprises of the heavy variety, the band delivers plenty of melodeath/metalcore-inspired material. More traditional DH rockers like “Leave Me Alone” and “Cut to Fit” serve up palatable riffs that effectively balance catchy and heavy in an approachable vibe and should be easily welcomed by the fanbase. On the heavier side of things, “Ash” is a frenetic rush sans any clean vocals and seeped in vitriol and thrashy tempos, and “No Place for You Here” is laced with djenty/Meshuggah tones that revel in groove. Sitting in the ‘softer yet still heavy’ category proudly sit “Grey Matter,” with the album’s most ethereal chorus (and floaty synths/melodies) as well as the galloping “The Negative,” which slides into a darkly catchy chorus as the tempo slows down.
With War representing the heavier side of the band, it’s understandable that they still retained the Demon Hunter aesthetic throughout the album. The lack of ‘mellow’ moments keeps the energy going from beginning to end, even if the band doesn’t quite stretch too far out of their usual coverage zone. For bands in the metalcore field, there are still few that can go neck and neck with Demon Hunter for this sound.