Review Rating: Must Listen! (4.6 / 5)
From their self-titled album to Extremist, Seattle-based Demon Hunter stands out in the Christian metal genre for their relentless and defiant stance against spiritual darkness. Every song propels their battle cry and their double-take logo serves as both a symbol of Satan's inevitable defeat and Christ's coming victory. It's no surprise that their latest album picks up right where Extremist left off - with raging, gritty sounds, piercing lyrics, and an abrasive, steadfast allegiance. Evidenced by its unapologetic intensity, OUTLIVE is a worthy next chapter in the Demon Hunter legacy.
Opening the album is the intro track "Trying Times." The sound, from the beginning, is massive, in no small part thanks to the bold drums, low bass, and lead Ryan Clark's booming, echoing vocals. Its lyrics set the stage for the album: that these are indeed trying times, but since Christ has conquered death, we have no reason to back down from the spiritual war waging around. Quickly running into the next track, "Jesus Wept" adds a sense of somberness to the fight. Fast-paced guitar and upbeat drums propel the melody as Ryan roars the lyrics. "Give me eyes wide … so I don't forget, I'm why Jesus wept." Our Savior was sorrowful many times before His crucifixion, a death due to our sins. The two tracks together are powerful insight - as Christ submitted to His Father's will in his trying time, thus we can face our own in the future.
"Cold Winter Sun" opens with the unleashed metal sound fans have come to expect from Demon Hunter. Though not as heavy as other classics, the track does not hesitate to charge forward with wild bass and unrestrained drums. The sounds are deep and low, accented by electric guitar riffs that draw out the melody while Ryan's roaring vocals lead the verses. Its lyrics express frustration, if not sarcastic disbelief, at a world that so willingly defies the true God. "See the vacant all descending to a left-hand path," Ryan roars, "where the dead reign in the godless dark." The chorus drives the point home with collective blame - in place of His kingdom, our world tries to build our own kingdom, in place of the Light of the world, it lusts after a cold, winter sun.
There are a handful of places where the album feels a little too held back - though some fans may find themselves disappointed, the themes of the album perfectly suit the intense power ballads across the collection. "Died In My Sleep" may not have the aggression of previous favorites like "Coffin Builder," "Not I," or "Storm The Gates Of Hell," but the accelerating guitar, fast drums, and mild electronic pulsing create a unique sound that even the most skeptical of fans will enjoy. Its lyrics, however, remain just as sincere and piercing as usual. Ryan's clean vocals describe how too often those who claim to know Christ obliterate their witness - and yet God's light and mercy somehow cut past our failures. It's encouraging and sobering - the signature Demon Hunter combination that inspires reflection and action.
Towards the end is "Slight The Odds," a powerful track to aid the album's close. Melodically, it harkens back to "I Am A Stone" and "Hell Don't Need Me," but lyrically, themes from "Collapsing" are clear. Demon Hunter has written about the struggles of watching people struggle with, lose, or give up their faith, but "Slight The Odds" combats the remorse with renewed, relentless resolve. One of the heaviest songs on the record, the intense guitar and drums drive Ryan's deep vocals. "I will not die for less, I dug my grave in this" Ryan roars, "no redefining, I won't be like the rest." To describe the song as powerful would be to greatly underestimate it.
Though not as melodically rigorous as past collections, OUTLIVE blazes its own trail with bold, new takes on beloved sounds and a relentless war cry. Their cinematic sounds beautifully meld with their classic, hardened metal style in ways fans have never heard before. Above all else, the band's commitment to standing firmly for the truth in the midst of a merciless and seething spiritual darkness takes the album beyond that of a casual listening experience. It's a fierce battlefield rally, a reminder that though times grow darker, through Christ, we will outlive it all.