(Solid State/Tooth & Nail Records)
Let's face it; throughout the battle-scarred histories of the Heavy Metal genre and it's countless bastardized offspring, the term 'Christian Metal' (i.e. Heavenly Metal, Unblack Metal, White Metal) has come to be viewed as a pejorative by a disproportionately large cross-section of listeners. Although the audiovisual contributions of artists and groups as stylistically disparate as As I Lay Dying, Tourniquet and, to a lesser extent, the heretofore mascara and hairspray-encrusted Stryper, are often held in the highest of regards, the occasionally inexplicable proliferation of the genre itself has continued to prove polarizing. Despite a perceived lack of respect from both self-described traditionalists and the uninitiated alike, number of artists of such ilk continues to grow at an awe-inspiring pace. Fortunately for all parties involved, Seattle, Washington-based Metalcore and Nü-Metal-infused icons Demon Hunter have at long last unleashed Outlive, their latest--and quite possibly greatest--efforts to date.
On the brilliant Outlive (2017), an expertly assembled twelve song collection of Metalcore and Nü-Metal-fueled Christian Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the pulsating, angst-riddled “Trying Times” and the maddeningly infectious first single “Cold Winter Sun”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved, myself most definitely included. Flexing their more-than-considerable creative muscles early and often, the group panders to their target demographic by once again 'delivering' the proverbial 'goods' without borrowing too heavily from the glories of yore. Wasting little--if any--time driving home each key focal point via a seamless barrage of soaring, multi-octave vocals, blistering arabesque and imaginatively punishing rhythms, they effortlessly distinguish themselves from their few legitimate compeers. The ensuing blood-thirsty onslaught is satiated by a uniquely palpable element of originality that resonate within the psyche of the listener.
Continuing with the emotionally-overwrought lament “Half As Dead” and the hook-laden, 'radio-ready' gem “One Step Behind”, the steadfast--to say the very least--combination of vocalist Ryan Clark (Deathbed Atheist, Low & Behold, NYVES), lead guitarist Patrick Judge, rhythm guitarist Jeremiah Scott (ex-Destroy, Destroy, Destroy, Living Sacrifice, The Showdown), bassist Jonathan Dunn (Soul Embraced) and ex-The Showdown drummer Timothy 'Yogi' Watts steamrolls ahead like the well-oiled machine they have undeniably become. Arguably improving upon both Extremist (2014) and True Defiance (2012), the group drives home each key focal point without, believe it or not, imploding under the veritable weight of their own virtuosic talents. Wisely capitalizing on the wealth of their more-than-considerable discography (i.e. eight new releases in a mere fifteen years) with ear-pleasing results, the group easily proves themselves worthy of the recognitions afforded to them.
Co-Produced by the 'dream team' tandem of Scott and Aaron Sprinkle (Emery, Relient K, Thousand Foot Krutch), and Mixed by Chris 'Zeuss' Harris (Hatebreed, Queensrÿche, Rob Zombie), other standouts, including the fist-pumping tirade “One Less” and the exhaustive, equally impressive closer “Slight The Odds”, find the improbably long-running group operating amid a bona fide creative and commercial peak. Love 'em or loathe em', this is quite possibly as good as it gets. Now seemingly destined to ascend re-ascend to the dizzying heights of international acclaim, what ultimately separates the omnipotent Outlive from the it's well-heeled predecessors is the group's oft-documented penchant for crafting lastingly memorable material. While one might effectively argue (and I, for the most part at least, would agree) that the thought-provoking ideologies at the epicenter of the group's refrains may alienate the truly unimaginative, the fruits of their labors are nothing short of extraordinary.
But is it groundbreaking or revolutionary? Not necessarily. But then again, that's not really the point, now is it? Undeniably the improbably long-running group's most cohesive and thoroughly studio recordings to date, the majority--if not all--of the decidedly fist-pumping, mosh-inducing wares contained herein effectively represent a natural 'turning point' in their career as they further solidify their already hard-earned reputation as the true heir apparent to the Christian Metal throne. Most definitely not for the faint of heart (or, for that matter, anyone without a genuine and sincere interest in broadening their musical horizons), the end results of their obviously concerted works essentially speak for themselves. Accordingly, if you have once again found yourself in search of a refreshing alternative to the painfully mindless, Pop and Hip-Hop drivel that is so often force fed en mass, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane salve for what ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
True Defiance (2012)
The World Is A Thorn (2010)
Live In Nashville (2008)
45 Days (2008)
Storm The Gates Of Hell (2007)
The Triptych (2005)
Summer Of Darkness (2004)
Demon Hunter (2002)
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