It may be safe to call 2010 the year of the Christian metal heavyweights. If you've already worn yourself out on Living Sacrifice's
excellent release from a month and a half ago, then Demon Hunter has arrived just in time with their fifth album, The World Is A Thorn.
While not quite having the history of a band such as Living Sacrifice, there is no question that Demon Hunter is a present-day legend in the Christian
metal/hardcore scene. Ever since their first self-titled album, they've been making music that doesn't sound much like anybody else, and is consistently great.
That being said, the band has seen some significant evolution, leaving many of us wondering what we're going to get on their fifth release.
Storm the Gates of Hell, the band's previous album, was a solid enjoyable effort that found the band meandering off into some strange,
progressive directions. The attempt worked most of the time, but it wasn't flawless. Now, with The World Is A Thorn, it's safe to say that Demon Hunter has stepped
back from their progressive wanderings.
The biggest news in between these two albums was the departure of both of the band's guitarists, Ethan Luck and founding member Don Clark. They were replaced by former
live fill-in Patrick Judge and Ryan Helm from The Ascendicate. The new guitar foundation is readily apparent on The World Is A Thorn, and I would say is an improvement.
While none of the band's previous albums featured any particularly impressive guitar work, here we find some nice riffing and an occasional burst of technicality that is refreshingly new.
Perhaps because of the new guitar approach, this album is noticeably harder than previous albums. The band seems to let things go much more readily then they
did before, and the instrumental background to Ryan Clark's growling is heavier and deeper. Of course, there are still a few ballads, as expected. "Driving Nails" is
a beautiful track in the vein of previous songs such as "Carry Me Down" and "Infected." In between the two extremes we have "Collapsing," the first single and
one of the strongest tracks. The vocal quality are almost entirely clean, but the song is still quite heavy and features a delightfully-placed guitar solo.
Another standout track is "Just Breathe," which ups the heaviness ante by including guest vocals from former Scar Symmetry vocalist Christian Älvestam.
In general, The World Is A Thorn is both heavier and faster than anything we've heard before from Demon Hunter,
and finds its place more solidly in the metal world than the band's previous albums.
As anticipated, the lyrics are hard-hitting and deep. "Tie This Around Your Neck" refers to the world's idea that man should
be completely dependent on himself, which Ryan Clark says is like a weight around our necks. "We feed on pain, disorder, delusion. The filth of the
modern plague. And in this reign of Godlessness, the heathens will say…Tie this around your neck." In a similar vein, Clark speaks
out strongly against the secular world in the title track, saying "Won't bow to man. Won't bow to government. Won't trust in a failed system of
self-fulfilling lust. Won't love a world where my God is mocked. I defy."
The World Is A Thorn may be the closest thing to a perfect album we've heard so far from Demon Hunter. The band stumbles in only one
respect, the uninteresting, too-short track "LifeWar." In every other sense, this is an excellent release that will quickly find its place as
one of the top metal albums of the year.
- Review date: 3/8/10, written by Timothy Estabrooks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
As one of Solid State's top acts, Demon Hunter is taking 2010 by storm with their powerhouse fifth studio album, The World Is A Thorn.
They've gotten better with each new release, and it's safe to say that this trend has continued once again. While older DH almost used the same pattern for most songs
on a single album, The World Is A Thorn is a bit more diverse. "Driving Nails" is your standard DH ballad, but you find yourself getting pummeled by the severe thrash metal
of the title track while the speed and intensity of "Just Breathe" ironically leaves little room to breathe (but no complaints here). The musicians find themselves experimenting
quite a bit and succeeding just about all the time. The high-pitched guitar screeches during the verses of "Shallow Water" - though a good idea - become more obnoxious than enjoyable,
but it's pretty minor and doesn't really last too long. There's a lot more '80s-styled guitar work intertwined, as well, and it's always perfectly placed and a welcome addition in
each song. Ryan Clark's vocals sound as good as ever, and he has found new ways to stretch them, whether it's hitting much higher notes while singing or taking his screaming
into death metal territory. There's even some gang vocals thrown into the mix, which always make for a nice touch. The World Is A Thorn is heavier, thrashier, more
experimental, and without a doubt Demon Hunter's best work yet.
- Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com