In a world where pop music is centering on the hip-hop of gangster rappers and the light-rock of punk sellouts, the darker side of contemporary music is often overlooked and even frowned upon. Hardcore and heavy metal bands are normally condemned to exist on the fringes of popularity, only featured on special occasions by music heavyweight MTV. As a result, the market for good bands can be limited, making it an accomplishment to find a steadily functioning and developing metal group.
One consistently impressive band of this heavy-metal genre that just recently released another progressive album is the Seattle quintet Demon Hunter. Their latest release, “Storm the Gates of Hell,” continues the group’s tradition of gripping, shredding rhythms and vocals while expanding their instrumentation and melodic flow.
From the kick-off, the group sets the stage for tracks to come with a head-banging, gut-wrenching, face-pounding onslaught of driving bass, harmonic use of guitar feedback, and gritty, powerful vocals.
The lyrics are just as raw and passionate as the music, screaming a call-to-arms and cry to the believers to storm the gates of hell. The song only lets up in its transition to the bridge, which comes back in full force, declaring, “Hell hath no fury at all.”
The first track doesn’t really even end; it fades into the next song, which comes in just as strong as the first. In this track, “Lead Us Home,” lead vocalist Ryan Clark showcases his vocal skills. The piercing alto-range melodies he spouts forth in the chorus are in stark contrast to the guttural screams he wrenches from his diaphragm in the verses. The scale of this second track is epic. All parts work in perfect harmony to produce a truly massive sound.
The remainder of the album continues to impress and develop musically and vocally. The use of strings in the introduction of “Sixteen” gives an ethereal, melodic beginning to one of the heaviest songs. The ballad “Carry Me Down” shows Clark’s remarkable ability to use music, vocals, and lyrics to create a truly beautiful and emotional work of art. The album finishes just as big as it begins with the epic “The Wrath of God.”
The only imperfection in this nearly flawless gem is the occasionally rough transition from verse to chorus. This is most felt in “Incision.” Separately the verses and choruses are nearly perfect, but a few times they don’t work seamlessly; however no instance is glaringly obvious to the point of diminishing the impact or enjoyment of the album.
“Storm the Gates of Hell” is an overall astonishingly impressive addition to Demon Hunter’s discography. The band’s sound has matured immensely from their other albums.
The range of style here is a welcome advance for Demon Hunter fans. The heavy metal is still very evident, with development around and even within this genre. On a scale from one to ten, this album deserves a solid 9.5 for its musical and lyrical superiority.
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