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Just where Demon Hunter sits in this competitive and crowded metalcore genre remains unclear and largely open to debate. The band has never garnered the same praise and reputation as other contemporary (Christian) metal bands, namely those of As I Lay Dying and August Burns Red. However, it is not for a lack of trying nor is it because the band is musically inadequate or inept, rather the group has bordered itself in that all too common category – a good band but not a great one.
Album number five entitled, ‘The World is a Thorn’ is solid if nothing else. The ingredients are here, the passion is self-evident and the conscious concession to improve is marked in the music. However, the release follows a similar script. The tunes are consistent and in essence enjoyable but they just don’t grab your attention like the strong resonance of many of the band’s musical peers.
The album is assertive, bold and clear characterising itself as Demon Hunter’s heaviest offering yet. Opening track ‘Descending Upon Us’ begins with a harmonic instrumental refrain before launching into a metalcore styled thrash number. What the initial track works well to isolate is that there is a mesh of genres present on the release. Bits of thrash, nu-metal, metalcore and alternative rock are all highly prevalent.
Moreover, the band employs some impressive guest vocalists, namely Bjorn Strid of Soilwork fame and Dave Peters from Throwdown. The guest spots seem fitting as the music and tone of ‘The World is a Thorn’ follow a similar lineage to the aforementioned artists. ‘Feel As Though You Could’ is arguably, the album’s crowning moment. Featuring Peters, the song is fast, heavy and balanced with a subtle dose of clean vocals and rhythmic melody.
The problem ultimately hanging over the head of this release is that while the music is endearing, when we juxtapose this sound against fellow musical acts, as well as the bands Demon Hunter derive their inspiration from, the music appears a little less polished and memorable. Something tells me As I Lay Dying’s pending release, ‘The Powerless Rise’ might just prove these assertions even more considered.
‘The World is a Thorn’ is certainly better than a large portion of similar releases floating around at the moment but after ten years and five releases perhaps a simple pass mark is no longer sufficient. Being ‘thereabouts’ is only appealing in the infancy of a bands musical career. Let’s file this one away as decent without being spectacular.
1. Descending Upon Us
4. This is the Line
5. Driving Nails
6. The World is a Thorn
7. Tie This Around Your Neck
8. Just Breathe
9. Shallow Water
10. Feel As Though You Could
11. Blood in the Tears
12. Desire the Pain (bonus track)
13. Driving Nails [String Mix] (bonus track)