Thursday, February 21, 2008

Demon Hunter - Storm the Gates of Hell CD Review

Storm the Gates of Hell is Demon Hunter’s fourth album in their five year career and comes only a little more than a year after their last album, The Triptych. It’s been interesting to see how this band has progressed from their mysterious, enigmatic beginnings to their current radio-rock influenced nu-metal incarnation. It’s been a continual progression that has shown the band keeping certain elements consistent throughout each release, but continuing to soften their edge with each release.

Storm the Gates of Hell is easily the band’s least “heavy” album to date and shows the band focusing most of their efforts on putting together songs that are less concerned with brutal ferocity and more focused on bringing out their decidedly melodic moments. By doing this, the band is walking a fine line between appeasing current fans and appealing to a wider mainstream rock audience. It’s a line that they could have toed a little better, as Storm the Gates of Hell comes off as nothing more than a neutered version of the band creating watered down songs that lack the punch (both musically and lyrically) of past efforts.

The biggest change that you will notice is the severe lack of crunching breakdowns on this album. Sure, there are some pseudo-breakdowns here and there, but they’re extremely simplistic in nature. As opposed to previous albums where the crunching nu-metalcore beatdowns accentuated the melodic tendencies of the band, most of the songs here seem to include the heavy elements simply as an afterthought. There are a couple of exceptions, however. “I am You” is notable in that it has a heavy swagger that shows the direction the band should have traveled down -- the crunchy pre-chorus leads into a melodic, yet heavy, chorus followed later on by a meaty bridge before transitioning back into the heart of the song.

Another strong song is “Sixteen” (featuring Bruce Fitzhugh of Living Sacrifice fame). The first 50 seconds of the song lead up to the most pummeling breakdown of the album, which moves into a standard heavy verse, melodic chorus structured song (although it does have a nice drawn out bridge), but it is still a solid effort and shows the band writing a song that is catchily heavy.

Beyond the few strong songs, however, you’re going to be treated to some pretty simplistic lyrics tossed over bland, nu-metal inspired, radio friendly metalcore. It’s sad to see a band that has put out lyrically intelligent and musically competent albums in the past resorting to dumbing themselves down for a wider appeal. Let’s hope that this is simply a misstep that Demon Hunter will correct with their next album.

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