I remember when Demon Hunter first hit the scene. They were keeping their identity a secret. They didn’t want their past work to influence what people thought of their new work. People on the internet talked about them as Solid States answer to Slipknot. I remember hearing “Through The Black” (the band’s first single) on This Is Solid State Volume 3. Instantly I knew it was Ryan Clark from Training For Utopia on vocals. If this was a gimmick, I wasn’t sure the band had much of a shelf life. Twelve years and seven albums later, Demon Hunter is one of the biggest bands, not just in christian music, but it metal. Member changes have helped shifted and evolve Demon Hunter’s sound but you know a Demon Hunter song when you hear it.
I’ve always enjoyed Demon Hunter and the band put out their best work and a perfect album with The World Is A Thorn. The follow-up, True Defiance, was a good record. It was solid and Demon Hunter didn’t lose a step. But it just didn’t connect with me the same as The World Is A Thorn. Extremist falls somewhere between those two records.
I like Extremist more than I do True Defiance, but it doesn’t have that instantaneous love and draw that The World Is A Thorn had. There are songs that instantly caught my attention and made me say wow, but a lot of the record is Demon Hunter. It’s not a bad thing, but after seven records you become accustomed to hearing a sound. Demon Hunter has always been good at being Demon Hunter. They make great metal and their discography works together. It’s just hard sometimes to hear something new and have a fresh opinion about it.
Extremist brings back the Swedish metal influence that all over The World Is A Thorn. But Extremist also feels like it spans more of the band’s discography. It encompasses more of what the band has done well in the past and puts an updated spin on it.
Death is a bit of an odd choice for an opener, but Demon Hunter’s not always chosen opening tracks that I get (Storm The Gates of Hell, True Defiance). The intro to the song I get, but then the track explodes like it belongs as part of another song (similar to Life War). Artificial Life is a great song and fits in the vein of song that the band has used as their lead single the last couple of albums. Hard hitting with a great guitar solo and catchy hook.
Extremist features some of the best guitar work we’ve heard from Demon Hunter. The solos on What I’m Not, The Last One Alive, In Time, and Beyond Me are some of Judge’s best. The riffs on Cross To Bear and One Last Song are excellent. I Will Fail You is a classic Demon Hunter ballad. Their best in two albums. The Heart Of A Grave is an excellent closing track. Heavy and catchy. It’s a celebratory song, and a great way to close the record.
Extremist might not be breaking new ground, but I imagine Demon Hunter fans don’t want the band to do anything too drastic to change their sound. What Extremist is is really good. Demon Hunter has their craft down to a science and they execute it perfectly. Another great record from Demon Hunter.