Demon Hunter’s early years saw the metal band struggle to find balance between the heavy hardcore components of the genre and the more melodic and artistic touches necessary for a Christian band to gain mass support. With Demon Hunter and the followup Summer Of Darkness, the results were mixed. But with Demon Hunter’s The Triptych, that balance is just short of absolute perfection, with bone-rattling breakdowns aggressive enough to win over any metal or post-hardcore fan supplemented by catchier choruses highlighted by improved and more prominent clean vocals from Ryan Clark. The band’s religious and thematic take-no-prisoners approach to combating evil is at its most artistic with The Triptych, an album that handily proves Christian music has a place in the hardcore metal genre.
“Not I” follows the haunting angelic choir intro with an jaw-dropping amount of energy, immediately throwing the gauntlet down for The Triptych. Clark’s heavy metal growls are as intimidating as ever, but his clean vocals are surprisingly melodic and perfectly compliment the hard-hitting verses with a lighter, catchy chorus. Timothy “Yogi” Watts absolutely destroys everything in his path on the drums and Don Clark and Ethan Luck supply blazing riffs to go along with typical guitar-chugging, but Demon Hunter’s talent for writing intelligent and poignant lyrics is also on display as Clark bellows: “The void you suffer is a curse forever bleeding inside / Now you embrace the fatal sickness you should despise / Remember the day you lost that / Where is the shame that will bring your soul back?”
“Undying” gives a better look at Demon Hunter’s newfound ability to better balance the hardcore and melodious aspects of their music, as more fervent and aggressive verses give way to an even more enjoyable and optimistic chorus (“One final heartbreak / And blinding lights will guide our way / Free us our blind state / They will call us by our name). Clark nails the vocals on both sides of the coin, while the whirring guitar riffs and groovy bass hooks of Jon Dunn give the audience a strong urge to nod their heads to this rhythmic rocker.
“One Thousand Apologies” takes the title of best on the album, although that might be debatable since it doesn’t feature hardly any heavy metal breakdowns or screaming. Instead, the whine of the central guitar riff, Watts’ heavy pounding on the drums, a groovy bass riff and Clark’s sullen but mellifluous vocals form the perfect combination of reflective and anxious to give this sing-along rock anthem its feeling and impact.
After two albums struggled to develop a sense of balance between heavy metal and the lighter touches needed to present the more endearing elements of the band’s Christian message, The Triptych finally succeeds in finding the perfect harmony between the two. Ranging from brutal breakdowns to melodic clean vocals, Demon Hunter shows no problem crafting hard-hitting but enjoyable metal masterpieces with an optimistic and sometimes intense message. But balance within songs isn’t the only thing The Triptych gets right, as sentimental and heartfelt ballads like “Deteriorate” and “The Tide Began To Rise” offer variety, making this the first Demon Hunter entry to feel like a true album. The downright wicked breakdowns, feverish guitar riffs and astounding drumming of any metal album are all still intact, as Watts’ ridiculous double bass pedals of “The Soldier’s Song” can testify. But despite the band’s attacking approach to good winning over evil, at the end of the day, Demon Hunter does testify their Christian message. This is why The Triptych‘s balance and variety are such welcome additions, not only from a compositional standpoint, but as thematic enhancers of the optimism and faith behind the creative and colorful lyrics. Fans of Becoming The Archetype, The Devil Wears Prada, August Burns Red, Haste The Day, Project 86, War Of Ages, Disciple and Living Sacrifice should hail The Triptych as the incredible breakthrough it is, not only for Demon Hunter, but for the genre of hardcore Christian music itself.
Final Score: 9.1/10
- The Flame That Guides Us Home
- Not I
- Relentless Intolerance
- The Soldier’s Song
- Fire To My Soul
- One Thousand Apologies
- The Science Of Lies
- Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck
- The Tide Began To Rise