on February 11, 2014
---Note: I wanted to give this album 4.5 stars, but I figured I'd round up.---
I first started listening to Demon Hunter about a year and a half ago, and to be honest, I hated them the first time I heard them. But after doing some reading on their story, and looking at some of their lyrics, I decided to give them a second chance. Boy am I glad I did. If you like heavy metal, these guys will blow you away. Though some first time listeners may find Ryan's throat shredding screams off putting at first, I've come to appreciate them. But forget that, on to True Defiance.
I have to admit, this is a master piece. From the blazing opener, all the way to the slower, highly emotional closing track, the album presents quality material. While there are a couple bumpy spots on the road, they are quite acceptable for an album like this.
Track by track:
Crucifix: - 4.5/5
Great, great, GREAT opener. From the first second it's full throttle all guns blazing (according to Ryan Clark it is probably the fastest song they've ever done). The lyrics discuss the idea of every sin of the world being "Embodied on a thankless crucifix." Really, I can't say enough good things about this song.
God Forsaken: - 4/5
Another heavy song, while not as in-your-face-wake-up-everybody as Crucifix, it does make its point. Instrumentally it is still fast, and I absolutely LOVE the tone they have on the guitars. Another brilliant thing about the song is an instrumental piece after the second chorus, which honestly sounds like a combination of hard rock and bluegrass, it then flawlessly morphs into the song's guitar solo. The only bad thing I can say about the instrumental is that after the third chorus, there is about a minute and twenty seconds of just instrumental. While it does sound pretty good at first, after about thirty seconds you start wondering when the next chorus is gonna come around. And then it doesn't, the song ends on ONE much too drawn out (21 seconds) guitar note. And while it's a good song, the outro ends the song on a low note. Lyrically the song is about having so many problems in your life, you feel like you're God forsaken. And surprisingly for the subject matter, the song uses more singing than screaming, which really helps to capture the idea of feeling God forsaken without it sounding like a rant.
My Destiny: - 5/5
Well, after God Forsaken takes too long to fade out we jump right Back into the inferno with My Destiny. It opens with a riff that's even faster than Crucifix, and screams that are just as if not more throat shredding than those found in the opener. Then it transforms into a chorus that is just as fast instrumentally, but is amplified in quality by Ryan pulling out some of his amazing singing, and while it did sound weird the first time I heard the song, by the second chorus it didn't sound strange at all, it sounded awesome. I really don't have anything terrible to say about this one. The only thing I can get on them about is that the lyrics are a bit difficult to wrap your head around. Though there are videos on YouTube where Ryan explains the song, and I would suggest taking a look at one of them.
Wake: - 3.5/5
Clunk. Well, it looks like we've hit the first bump in the road. But it is a small bump. Don't get me wrong, I like this song, but some of the lyrics are kind of awkward: "Lay your fear on the line and wake up" "Throw your panic aside and let go." I think they're a bit weird, but they still work. Over all it's still a good song, it just could have used a little more polishing.
Tomorrow Never Comes: - 4/5
Oh yes, another brilliant ballad. It seems like every ballad they've done has been a highlight of the album, with some being among their top songs period (My Heartstrings Come Undone and Carry Me Down just to mention a couple). This is no exception. The lyrics are about someone making a decision tomorrow that may lead them away from God for eternity. The band was walking on a knife when they wrote this. It could have become another "Stick to Jesus and you'll never stumble" song (we have way to many of those already), or it could have gone into "Well he's gonna take a wrong turn and fall of the top of the building, I hope he waves when he goes by my window." But instead it ended up as an anthem of hope. Pretty much saying "Stay strong brother, I hope that that tomorrow never comes." This could have been a five star song, except for two things: 1, the bridge after the second chorus ends on a very out of place scream, and leads into (2) a guitar solo that should have stayed on the demo tapes. Other than that, this defiantly one of the album's highlights.
Someone Too Hate: - 2/5
Boom clank smash OUCH! Here we are at another bump in the road. While a lot of people really like this song, I just can't see why. The instrumental is just plain weird. And the lyrics are rather strange too. Here's a direct quote from the song: "My heart is cold, And my weapons are washed in blood, I am vowed to the call on high, My resolve's in the blessed above, In this ever consuming divide, I am the cry for the falling of time. (end quote)" While this may really speak to some people, I personally don't get it. Now I'm gonna stop before I start ranting.
This I Know: - 3.5/5
This was a hard one to rate. While I really like the vocals and the lyrics, the instrumental is kind of weird. And to be honest, I can't really think of much to say about this one. It's a good song, it sounds pretty good, it just doesn't have that one thing that makes the song scream Play me again! Play me again! And while it is a good song, without that it just doesn't find its way into my headphones very often.
Means To An End: - 4/5
This is a first for Demon Hunter. We are loving the blazing inferno of heavy metal at its best, and then smack dab in the middle there is a very light acoustic instrumental. And it fits. I don't know how or why, but it fit perfectly where they put it. And when I say very light, I mean VERY light. Like, light enough that I get away with playing it as prelude music at church every few Sundays. Overall, it is a very nice piece that seems out of place at first, and yet fits perfectly when you take a second look.
We Don't Care: - 3.5/5
This is another good song, but not a great song. The instrumental is ok, but not awesome. The lyrics are quite good, and discuss the idea of us not caring about what's happening in our culture.
Resistance: - 4/5
Oh I love this song! It's not really a ballad, but it's not really a blazer either. It follows the same path as "Thorns" off Storm the Gates of Hell, it's a hard rock song on a Demon Hunter album. Which is awesome. While Thorns almost sounded like a Skillet or Thousand Foot Krutch song, Resistance wouldn't fit those guys. Quite frankly, I can maybe see this on a Red or Disciple album, and I could defiantly see it as a Love and Death song. I also like where they put it on the album, you can feel that the album is winding down, but it's only winding down in that it's getting ready to end, because in reality, it's not getting weaker at all, it's just getting ready for the grand finale.
Dead Flowers: - 5/5
And here we are at the grand finale that Resistance was winding down to. For a band like Demon Hunter, when deciding what order to put an album's songs in has three rules: #1 Open on a blazer, no ballads aloud. #2 Open with a good strong track. #3 Close as strong or stronger than you opened. Between Crucifix and Dead Flowers they nailed all three. And while it may be strange, this is the song that got me into Demon Hunter. Like Tomorrow Never Comes, Dead Flowers is a ballad, and one of the album's highlights. The song is about losing someone you love, and the flowers that are put on a grave (Quote: "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. (end quote)). Honestly, on the list of my favorite Demon Hunter ballads, this one comes in at #3, which is saying a lot seeing as it knocked My Throat is an Open Grave down to #4. The song is quite slow in the verses, and still slow in the chorus though it does pick up some speed. The vocals are beautiful, and really show how well Ryan can sing. The whole thing is topped off by a fast, but not out of place guitar solo, and an outro that ends the album perfectly.
Deluxe edition bonus tracks:
What Is Left: - 3/5
What Is Left is a very interesting song, in some ways that's good and in other ways it isn't. It's a lot like Resistance in the type of song it is (instrumentally, I could defiantly see this on a Skillet album). The lyrics are about someone looking at their life, and specifically one sin that they thought they had dealt with and gotten rid of, but it keeps coming back to haunt them.
I Am A Stone: - 4/5
Oh wow, and I mean WOW. This song is composed of two small elements: Ryan's vocals, and I believe 2 violins, though I may be wrong on the number. There's something in physics about two small things put together adding up to more than there was before, and that law applies here too. The violins compliment Ryan's voice astoundingly well, and the lyrics fit with the instrumental too. The song talks about things in the world that try to change you, but being able to resist them with the help of God ("I am a stone, unaffected, rain hell down on to me, flesh and bone, unaffected, your fool I will not be"). Over all, this is an even better closing song than Dead Flowers, and if you buy the standard CD, I would defiantly go download this song separately.
Versions of the album aside from the standard CD:
I have two copies of True Defiance, and neither of them are the standard CD. One is a vinyl copy, and one is the deluxe box set. I will be doing a short review of both and rating them, the rating for the box set and for the vinyl have absolutely nothing to do with the music.
Vinyl - 4/5 (in other words, above average)
The vinyl edition comes in an uncoated sleeve gatefold sleeve (meaning a sleeve that folds in the middle and doesn't have a glossy finish) with one lyrics sheet, and is pressed on two black 180 gram 33rpm discs. The sound quality is pretty good, and it doesn't have any pops or crackling.
Box set - 5/5
This is one of the things I love about Demon Hunter, they go the extra mile to keep fans and collectors happy in areas aside from the music. The first time they released a special edition of an album was with The Triptych in 2006, which featured 4 bonus tracks and a DVD with a full live concert, a making of documentary, and other awesome stuff. The next album "Storm the Gates of Hell" started the tradition of the box set, and we've seen two more awesome box sets so far (one for The World Is A Thorn, and now this one). I'll start by listing what's in the box:
1. A metal cross pendant that's about 5 inches long
2. A 2 sided poster featuring both of the standard edition album covers
3. A large format 20 page art book
4. 12 lyric cards (yes I know, there's 13 songs, but one is an instrumental, so it doesn't need a lyric card)
And a folder containing:
5. The deluxe CD
6. A DVD featuring a look at what went into the album, Ryan going through every song and explaining the lyrics and 3 acoustic performances (Tomorrow Never Comes, Means to an End, and I Am a Stone)
All housed in a heavy duty 7''x7'' box.
Honestly, this is probably the best box set they done, while the other two were pretty good, this is the best so far.
Best songs: 1, My Destiny 2, Dead Flowers 3, Crucifix
Over all, this is a solid album, and I can't wait to hear the new record "Extremist" when it comes out on March 18th of this year.
P.S. I Am a Stone should have won classical song of the year at the 2012 Grammys, and if you read through this whole thing, thanks for your time.
on April 30, 2014
I bought Demon Hunter's older album entitled "The Triptych" and haven't found myself listening to it very often and then my friend showed me songs like Crucifix and My Destiny and I ended up buying this one. Since I am reviewing this one, I've obviously listened to this one. This album will rip your limbs off, bash your skull in and kick you to the floor while remaining Christian and very spirited.
1. Crucifix- This song starts off with a distant sounding jam and then the guitar part becomes louder and then you're being assaulted buy one of the angriest, most thrashy sounding Christian songs I've heard! Ryan Clark is a beast! I love his vocals! He gives this music the thrashy/death style while the music alone is heavy, fast, and melodic! This is a great song to headbang along to. The double bass drumming work on this song is absolutely amazing! The bridge is more chill, but it'll make you feel chills because of how angry Ryan sounds. The solo in this one is very well done! There is shredding, but there is also melody, something metal guitarists can't seem to get right these days. Great song though!!!
2. God Forsaken- This song is slower and sounds more epic. Still headbang worthy, but more melodic. The verse is more on the groove metal side and then Ryan starts singing for the first time on the album and dang is his voice good! I love his screams, but his singing has a level of emotion that few singers can beat. The verses on this song are very angry and grooving and the chorus is very melodic, still heavy, and full of uplifting spirit even though the subject matter is far from happy and uplifting. The solo on this song is also very good! It's a clean solo and it's very soulful and it's very masterful! These guitar players still know how to make real solos. It seems like few bands these days have guitar players that can make real solos, let alone solo at all. Great job to these guys. I love the instrumental section in this song! Great addition! Awesome song, one of the album's best!!!
3. My Destiny- This song starts off much more in-your- face than the previous song was. It's very grooving and then it blasts out into a thrashy melodic death metal sounding verse! Then it comes back to it's groove style and then the chorus is melodic and worthy of head banging! This song is another very well-put together song. If you are underwhelmed with metal these days, check out this song or any of the previous songs! They are all great! The solo on this song is melodic and sound more reserved. The production makes it sound more poppy though, and to this point in the album, it's the worst solo. It doesn't detract from the song though! Great song!
4. Wake- This one starts with Ryan singing and then it blasts into a heavy groove/alternative metal sounding riff. It sounds like something you'd expect from In Flames and/or Soilwork nowadays. The verse has some very strong, brooding vocals over some very intense riffing. The chorus on this one is heavier than the verses which is distinct when compared to the preceding 3 tracks. I can really jam out to this song too! The guitar solo on this one is melodic and reserved like the last one, but it does start getting more interesting as it goes. The poppy production/effect on the guitar solo is a little annoying though...Good song none the less.
5. Tomorrow Never Comes- While I'm new to Demon Hunter, I do know that they are renowned for their ballads and this ballad is awesome! The opening guitar line is beyond great! The verse is very emotional and makes me feel something. The chorus is very nice as well. I am a person that really enjoys ballads and this one is good! I wouldn't call it the best thing on the album, though, because I've heard better ballads and better songs on this album. Ryan's vocals are some of the best around in metal today. He ranks among the best, but he isn't the best. That spot is reserved for Tom Englund. The solo on this song is aggressive, especially compared to the previous two songs. It's a good solo, but it's just very aggressive. Good ballad!
6. Someone to Hate- This one starts off very dark and brooding and then the drums come in and make it sound even darker. This is a very slow heavy song in the verse. It sounds like a death/doom metal song! The screams/growls are intense and then the chorus is melodic and rises out of the chaos! The singing in the chorus is great! The guitar part in the verses is a little simplistic compared to the other songs, but it works. The chorus guitar cancels out the verse's simplicity. The bridge is slow and epic and more on the atmospheric side of things. The solo in this song is disappointing. It's just frustrating to hear it when there have been much better solos earlier in the album! This is a solid song, but the solo is a letdown.
7. This I Know- This one starts off sounding like it's a dance tune and then it kicks in your face! It's a metalcore feel in the verse this time around and it works very well! The chorus of this one isn't as epic as the previous one, but it's heavier and the guitars on this one sound more frantic! The drumming on this one is as strong as ever and Ryan's vocals continue to hold the songs together! The middle section of this one is all around heavy and the solo is definitely better! I wouldn't call it good, but it's close. It adds to the song, so it's not bad in any way! Great song!
8. Means to an End- This is a very peaceful instrumental. It's very relaxing to listen to, but at almost 3 minutes, it's way too repetitive. The guitars don't really change up that much at all, but rhythm section is the only thing that changes and it just fails to go anywhere or accomplish anything. It's ok.
9. We Don't Care- The riff to this one at the beginning sounds more like an Alternative/Nu Metal riff. Then it opens up into a metalcore/nu metal verse, but the song as a whole is just a little less than stellar. It is a heavy song, but I don't really get much out of it. The song just, to me anyway, follows in the vein of the instrumental. It's ok, but it doesn't seem to go anywhere or leave an impact. The solo on this one really annoys me too. This one is actually to the point where it does negatively impact the song. It's just shredding and then note patterns that many people do. Not that impressed with this song.
10. Resistance- The guitar part sounds like a sequel to the previous track, but the drumming that accompanies it crushes that idea. The verse then sounds more demanding and melodic. Ryan sings calmly over some raging music and the chorus keeps a chill atmosphere. It is in the vein of the previous song, yet it manages to capture that atmosphere with some memorable moments, more effective drumming, more use of atmospheric elements such as keys/synths, and the guitarists' skills are better utilized here. The solo section is full of shredding. The solo doesn't impress me as much as the music behind it. I really like the riffing the accompanying guitar is doing with the bass and the speed metal drumming! Great backing stuff, but the solo was just notes at a million miles an hour, and in metal, it is possible to make amazing solos that don't feature just that. Good song overall, though! I like it!
11. Dead Flowers- Another ballad closes this album off. The music is much more lax than the other ballad on the album. They are both beautiful songs for their own reasons. The other one is more of a power ballad and this one is more of a chill song. The chorus on this one features some higher, more emotional vocals, and the guitar solo on this song is one of the album's best ones! It balances between faster notes and melodic lines. This is a great song in general, but it's an amazing closer! It leaves me feeling satisfied.
Verdict- If you're a Demon Hunter fan, buy it. If you like alternative metal like Sevendust, Breaking Benjamin, or Five Finger Death Punch, you'll find some things in here to like. If you like metalcore like Underøath, Haste the Day, or August Burns Red, you'll also find somethings to enjoy in here. If you like modern In Flames, then you'll probably find this album pretty good. All in all, if you want some good metal, check this album out!