It’s been a few years since I’ve enjoyed the pleasures of hunting demons but back when I was an avid and professional hunter, I never left the hunting lodge without a little Demon Hunter in my ears to keep me sharp and focused. A mere two years after 2010’s The World Is A Thorn, Solid State‘sDemon Hunter are ready to send the agents of the horde back to the planes of Hell with True Defiance.
Alright, enough of the hunting and demon referencing shenanigans. Head on over here for the full review.
I first discovered Demon Hunter when I picked up the Resident Evil: Apocalypse soundtrack back in 2004 and listen to the track “My Heartstrings Come Undone” (which made it on our Top 10 Heavy Metal Love Songs by the way) and was immediately intrigued by their unique and signature sound. True Defiance still definitely a DH album but has them progressing in a more dynamic direction as each track has the band either increasing their aggressive tendencies or further embracing their dark, somber tones.
True Defiance opens with the brutal “Crucifix” which demon-strates (ha! see what I did there?) this newfound ferocity. Ryan Clark shows a great range of harsh and guttural vocal sounds – even blessing us with some death metal type growls. “God Forsaken” is an interesting amalgamation of previous albums with its catchy guitar riffs, clean vocal chorus, and pounding bass and drum work. “My Destiny” follows with a franticly opening drum cadence and fast past guitar rhythm. Showing off the increased aggression, Clark’s vocals for the first few verses are harsh and vicious and slowly lead into his usual rough tones and into a harmonized vocal chorus. The song closes with a nice fist punching verse, which contrasts nicely into the opening of “Wake”.
“Wake” begins with Clark’s crescendoing vocals and into a heavy guitar riff which continues throughout and leading us to, “Tomorrow Never Comes”, the first true dark ballad of True Defiance that is usually associated with Demon Hunter. What separates this ballad from those of previous albums is the good use of catchy guitar solos. Next up, “Someone to Hate” stands out in stark contrast to the previous ballad and is probably the standout track of this album in its heaviness and black metal-like guitar and drum work.
True Defiance wouldn’t be true a Demon Hunter without an instrumental track which is given to us in the form of “Means To An End”, an undistorted guitar piece with an accompanying bass line and percussion background that proves to be a pleasurable interlude. “Dead Flowers” is one of my favorite tracks on True Defiance. It opens with a synth-melody and progresses into a melancholic piece that speaks about the fight for hope in the darkness of sorrow. The chorus says it all: “Dead flowers for the torn apart / Laid at the grave / To heal a broken heart / Let it rain until it floods / Let the sun breathe life once more / Reborn”.
Demon Hunter though saves the best for last with “I Am A Stone”. This closing track opens with a set of stringed instruments and Clark’s lone cleanly sung voice and the harmonized chorus vocals superbly done. “I Am A Stone” also contains some of the best lyrics of the whole album, as seen below:
“I tried to see and believe in the short-sight
Accept the burn of a vain and a half life
And how you rest your faith in these for a lifetime
The hollow lie against my hope that I won’t buy
Though it’s me to blame
There is no more shame in me… in me
I just feel the same
Immune to all you say
and the scars don’t write a song for me at all
No your tears won’t line a path for me to crawl”
So with all that said, how would I rank this album? It’s another solid album by a solid band. It definitely has Demon Hunter progressing in a slightly heavier direction, Clark’s vocals are the most dynamic I’ve seen on an album, and Tim “Yogi” Watts drumming is stellar. I just don’t see True Defiance staying in the music rotation for an extended period of time as the guitar riffs and solos are standard and catchy yet aren’t overly memorable. If you’re a DH fan, definitely pick it up. If you’re haven’t heard of Demon Hunter or if you’re curious as to what they’ve been up to, give it a quick listen first and decide if its worth your hard earned cash.
PS – If they’re playing a show in your town, definitely go see ’em live. They put on one hell’a show.