Morning Metal: Demon Hunter’s Extremist Album Review


Demon Hunter – Extremist

Release Date: March 18th, 2014

Demon Hunter, based out of Seattle, Washington, released their seventh studio album Extremist via Solid State Records on March 18th, 2014. Demon Hunter is known for their use of Christianity-influenced musical direction and frequent use of religious lyrics. While I was hesitant at first to listen to Demon Hunter, having come across them early 2012 to their 2010 album, The World Is A Thorn, I was not at all disappointed with Extremist. Rather, I couldn’t stop listening to the debut single, “Artificial Light.”

The album has a significant turn from 2012’s True Defiance with the overall instrumentals. While Demon Hunter maintained the heaviness from previous albums with “Hell Don’t Need Me,” they moved into a more ballad-oriented feel for the majority of the tracks including “I Will Fail You,” “The Last One Alive,” and the album’s angelic closer, “The Heart of a Graveyard.” Don’t feel distanced by your first impression of the album, it may not tickle your fancy the way it did mine. If you are new to Demon Hunter, having not heard their previous work, this album will be a beautiful, chaotic and monstrous example of the Washington group’s capabilities.

The band’s lead vocalist, Ryan Clark, comes in with the angry question of the day “Just who do you think I am?” with the album’s opener, “Death”. I enjoyed this track because it is served with a cold dish of religious chants at the beginning prior to Clark’s verses. Religious or not, it adds the same kind of haunting as Ghost’s “Year Zero.”

It continues to bring the metal with “Artificial Light,” which was released mid-February to prepare the listeners for what I would plainly call an “eargasm.” This track is very reminiscent of their previous album with the electronics involved within the track and this song serves as the main “fight song” of the album. In an interview with the frontman, he speaks about the single’s lyrical idea:

It’s essentially about how I pay attention to a lot of lyrics in other bands, and I think a lot of people might not. I talked to some of the guys in my band about that and sometimes there are some people who just don’t care, or, you know, aren’t concerned with the lyrics or whatever. There are certain bands where I pay less attention to that stuff, but for me I see it as a frame of reference of what people are saying and what people are being told. So for me, it’s good ammunition, I guess, when I write. Even if it’s something I disagree with, I can pull some inspiration from that ‘cause I can debate it, try to debunk it or give an alternate view to what another band says. – Ryan Clark on “Artificial Light” via Solid State Records, February 2014.


Next on the album’s track list is “What I’m Not” which follows “Artificial Light” very nicely with an electronica vibe. Instrumentally, this track contains the heaviness as well as the melodic chorus which made me fall in love with Demon Hunter in the first place. Along with “Artificial Light” and “Death,” it would seem that Demon Hunter strategically placed these songs next to each other in order to pave the way for their soothing tracks later on for the record. My only pet peeve with this track, however, is that it ends sort of abruptly where as it could have made a really cool intro to “The Last One Alive.”

Meanwhile, it moves onto the aforementioned track with a barrage of angry riffage into a very mellow tempo asking the question, “Is anyone alive?” The lyrics play a major part in this song, with Clark explaining, “If I were the last one alive that felt the way I do about the world or had my world view, my hope is that I would stay firm in that. Despite no one else agreeing with me and that my convictions would be strong enough at that point.” The song is very post-apocalyptic and reminds me very much about The Book of Eli which portrays a man wandering across a chaos stricken world with a belief of something better – regardless of who says otherwise. I could definitely jam this song while walking with my dog throughout a zombie apocalypse.


“I Will Fail You” follows perfectly with an acoustic intro followed by background chugs behind Ryan Clark’s verse. You’re not going to have any breaks with this one and is possibly my favourite song on the album – it is a haunting ballad which could relate to so many topics, from relationships to PTSD. You could interpret these lyrics in so many ways, “I will fail you – of that I’m sure. I will remind you of the pain forevermore. When my sins are just a memory – faith restored. I will fail you to the core.” It is a song that is meant to mean something different to everyone. I enjoy this side of Demon Hunter so much that I frequently select this song on my playlist first.


While it may not come as a surprise, “One Last Song” and “Cross To Bear” continue the onslaught of aggressiveness from where “What I’m Not” left off. The key factor I enjoy about these two songs is guitarists’ Patrick Judge and Jeremiah Scott riffs. “One Last Song” has a very metalcore-like riff which bounces from note to note into a power chord powerhouse chorus – say that 10 times fast. The bridge brings back the anthemic vocal style which is one of Demon Hunter’s neatest additions to their song structures – speaking deeply, slowly and powerfully to deliver a single message. “Cross to Bear,” which you can guess by its name, is about Christianity. This song is also one of the faster-paced songs but with the cool addition of rhythm gaps, especially near the end. The track just doesn’t let down the speed, moving from verse to verse in a matter of seconds.

Extremist’s seventh track “Hell Don’t Need Me” is, in my opinion, the headliner headbanger for this record. While not the most fast-paced, chaotic or table-flipping, the band combines the heavy chugs alongside Yogi’s thunderous drums – which is easily the best part of this song. Structurally, the song is very bare bones which leaves a lot of room for the message being conveyed. “The water will decide where to feed me. Mother don’t you cry, hell don’t need me.” Keeping the drums as the backbone of this song, the tone of Ryan’s voice is excellently complimented by the grooving solo.

“In Time” and “Beyond Me” are your regular Demon Hunter tracks with the massacre that is Ryan Clark’s delivery – I use that term in a good light. “In Time” isn’t a very good example of what Demon Hunter can do, but that’s why they saved the best track for last. The great thing about Demon Hunter is that they could be given a terrible song – keep in mind, I am not saying these songs are bad – but that they could make any song great with the way they write. The songs are in fact quite good, but not their best. No album is expected to have hit after hit, but the solo on “In Time” is the 10 out of 10 part for that song. The acoustic outro could have been used more in the song, although the way it is solely used in the ending is quite neat. “Beyond Me” along with “In Time” is another heavy hitter with a very neat synth intro. The pre-chorus of this song is my favourite part of this track, as it adds a completely different feel on the following chorus. If I could say one thing about Demon Hunter, it would be easy: their choruses will blow your freaking mind.

“Gasoline” has the smoothest transition from the previous track and also provides the perfect gateway into “The Heart of a Graveyard” with its combination of emotions from Clark and the metal of the band. “Gasoline” could be described as a summed up collection of every song we’ve heard so far on this album: melody, anger, grunts.

“The Heart of a Graveyard” is hands down the best song on the album. You wouldn’t even expect it coming from me. I could sit and listen to this song for hours – oh wait, I have. This, along with “I Will Fail You” would be the first songs I would recommend to people wanting to get into Demon Hunter for the first time. The combination of acoustic, synth and power in the opening just pulls you in to the song. “Tell me that your final home is not a shot in the dark. Tell me that your hopes and dreams don’t end in the heart of a graveyard.” If I haven’t mentioned before, Demon Hunter pens some of the best lyrics you’ll ever find in a metal band. The song is so enjoyable that you’re actually upset when it ends.

No, Demon Hunter! I want more!

Don’t worry, though. Demon Hunter will most likely have another album out in 2016, they’re relatively consistent with album releases. As I said, if you’re new to Demon Hunter, Extremist is the album to check out! It will ease you into their more aggressive material from previous albums if you dig this record as much as I do.

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Morning Metal – CKCU 93.1 FM – James Rockso