It has been a little over two years since Demon Hunter (Ryan Clark- vocals, Patrick Judge-lead guitar, Jeremiah Scott- rhythm guitar, Jonathan Dunn-bass, Yogi Watts- Drums, percussion) released their back-to-back albums “War,” and “Peace.” Now, the Seattle-based band is treating their fans to something entirely different, although not all that shocking- a stripped-down album of their own previously released songs. Anyone who has followed Demon Hunter since their self-titled album in 2002 knows that they like to write a ballad or two on each release. Although most fans adore the band’s metalcore sound, the ballads tend to be the favorite songs on every album. “Songs of Death and Resurrection” will be released on March 5, through Solid State Records.
The album starts with the song, “My Heart Is an Open Grave,” from their debut album. It seems fitting that the band would choose this as their opening track. Not only has it been a fan favorite for nearly twenty years, but it was also the first Demon Hunter song ever written. This version starts with a haunting piano intro and is much eerier than the original. It then builds with a beautiful string accompaniment and is an excellent taste of what follows on the rest of the album. The only previously unreleased song on the album is “Praise the Void.” The song is intended to be on a future album, yet the band decided to give fans the stripped-down version before releasing the original recording.
“Carry Me Down” has been one of the band’s most popular ballads since it showed up on their fourth album, “Storm the Gates of Hell,” in 2007. The song is most notable for having been played at several funerals of fans who have passed away over the years. Lyrically, it is one of the most transparent songs surrounding the band member’s Christian faith and the hope they have in the afterlife. This version is simple, yet dynamic. Throughout the album, Ryan Clark showcases his vocal range by transitioning between his lower registers and falsetto. “Songs of Death and Resurrection” draws attention to his powerful voice in ways not heard on the band’s previous ten albums.
One of the things that make “Songs of Death and Resurrection” genuinely unique is the guest vocals on the song, “Loneliness.” The female vocals harmonizing with Ryan Clark on the chorus are those of Peggy Clark, the woman that brought him into this world and inspired him to start singing when he was a child. I cannot think of any other metal band that has been metal enough to bring mom in to join in the recording process. This version of “Loneliness” is also the second-longest song Demon Hunter has ever recorded.
As many people know, Ryan Clark not only fronts Demon Hunter but is also an owner and designer for Invisible Creature, a Grammy-nominated graphic design studio near Seattle. Ryan has given serious attention to keep the brand of Demon Hunter consistent yet fresh on each album. For “Songs of Death and Resurrection,” he collaborated with legendary German artist, Eliran Kantor (Testament, Hatebreed, Havok) to help design the cover art. When I reached out to Eliran, he mentioned that Ryan “had a very clear and detailed vision” about the cover’s elements, but Kantor was left with the visual task- “designing the logo-turned-musical-instrument, the different characters, composition, light, and colors.” The cover is the incredible result of two master designers collaborating together.
Since their inception eighteen years ago, Demon Hunter has released ten studio albums, appeared as Number One on the Billboard charts, and have amassed over 60 million streams on Spotify in the last two years alone. They are truly masters of their genre and continue to pioneer new horizons. “Songs of Death and Resurrection” proves metal isn’t exclusive to distortion and breakdowns- it can be beautiful.