It was only three short years ago when a metalcore band known as Demon Hunter emerged from the hugely popular Tooth and Nail imprint Solid State Records. Their 2004 sophomore release Summer of Darkness gained attention from several major magazine publications and even earned them a spot on MTV2's Headbanger's Ball, which was fueled primarily by the album's lead-off smash "Not Ready to Die." With a pair of band member changes (Ethan Luck, formerly of Supertones' fame and Lonely Hearts drummer Timothy "Yogi" Watts), you'd think that would lead to a shift in the band's sound, correct? Believe it or not, DH are far from switching to a completely melodic outfit. The band's third release The Triptych is three times the production quality, three times the brutality, and three times the heart-felt growls and vocals of Ryan Clark.
A 'triptych' is defined as "a work consisting of three painted or carved panels hinged together," and the fact that the band has released three limited edition art covers for the album makes the title fittingly appropriate. From start to finish, the effort combines gut-wrenching guitars and pulsating beats in tracks like "Relentless Intolerance," "Not I," and the cover of Prong's "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck."
Many of the album's tracks also give the feel of a gigantic wrecking ball completely annihilating several small buildings amongst a barrage of shattered glass. Lyrically, the album continues in the vein of somewhat haunting messages, as the creepy yet smooth ballad "Deteriorate" discusses personal pain and struggle, whereas the brutal goth-feel of "The Science of Lies" stresses the issue of mindless deception in the world's darkest days. True highlights of The Triptych, though, features beautiful, melodic vocals from Clark in the alt metal song "A Thousand Apologies" and the piano-led "Tide Began to Rise." The remainder of the album follows in the vein of blistering electric guitar riffs and Ryan's trademark growls. However, fans of Demon Hunter's older material and the now defunct Training 4 Utopia might find a personal favorite with the song "Fire to My Soul."
Unfortunately, The Triptych, at times, sounds like it's recycling elements of Summer of Darkness, drawing comparisons to songs like "Our Faces Fall Apart" and "Beauty Through the Eyes of a Predator." Nevertheless, even though some may consider it a bit softer than their previous efforts, fans of either of Demon Hunter's self-titled or Summer of Darkness projects will find plenty to enjoy about this one, even though I would not personally recommend it for an individual struggling with depression. All negativity aside, Demon Hunter has once again proven themselves worthy of a place in the world of metal without shame or guilt. The one remaining mystery is wondering if whether or not these guys will continue to crank out one amazing project after the next in the years ahead. Only time will tell.- Review date: 10/31/05, written by Paul Portell; revised 11/20/05
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