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Demon Hunter

Extremist

Format: CD   Release Date: 03/18/2014
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Extremist, the seventh long-player from the Nashville-based Christian metal outfit responsible for delivering CCM a much needed kick in the teeth for the last decade or so, opens ostentatiously with "Death," a fractured, brutish, and surprisingly opulent (at least in its Ghost B.C.-inspired first half) introduction to an album that covers a lot of ground, stylistically. The band offer up a pair of solid, guitarmony-laden roof-raisers early on with "Artificial Light" and "The Last One Alive," both of which strike a nice balance between piston-pumping brutality and crisp, radio-ready sheen, but it's the relentless, hyper-kinetic "Cross to Bear," with its Gatling gun verses and seemingly endless volley of breakdowns that elicits the biggest draw of breath. The band flirts less successfully with electronic elements and burnished industrial metal on "What I'm Not," and mainstream post-grunge on the anthemic-to-a-fault "Heart of a Graveyard," but they manage to navigate the shipwreck-strewn waters of power balladry with surprising aplomb -- "He Don't Need Me" and "I Will Fail You" somehow manage to locate the sweet spot between turgid Godsmack broodiness and the stately melancholy of "Fade to Black"-era Metallica. Though there is a heavier focus on the clean side of things this time around, Ryan Clark continues to wield one of the more sonorous and easy to decipher death rattles in the business, and the band tears through each track, especially the heavier ones, with a ferocity that's usually relegated to groups with only an album or two under their belts. Extremist may be a tad too bold of a title, but it's still another strong entry into the Demon Hunter discography. ~ James Christopher Monger, Rovi

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