Having been a fan of Demon Hunter since their self-titled album, I have to say that this is easily the best of their three albums. Basically, it combines what I view as the best aspects of the first two albums. The first album had a very focused sound, with ten tracks (nine songs, one intermission-type affair), but had less-than-perfect production. Summer of Darkness sounded much cleaner; however, it felt unfocused, as the guest singers and the number of songs (13) distorted the clarity of the album’s message. Both were definitely great albums, however, with SoD being an overall improvement over the self-title.
On to The Triptych. I’ll go with a song-by-song analysis at first, then sum things up at the end.
The Flame That Guides Us Home: It’s an introduction to Not I, so there isn’t much to say. It does provide a good introduction to the album, however. (n/a)
Not I: Heavy and fast. Awesome drumwork combined with awesome vocals makes for an awesome song. Very well executed, and starts the album off extremely strong. (10/10)
Undying: The first single off of the new album. It’s pretty solid, with good metal vocals leading into a more melodic chorus. The only problem is that said sequence is becoming somewhat formulaic for Demon Hunter; it isn’t a problem yet, though. (8/10)
Relentless Intolerance: Another solid song. Still follows the aforementioned formula, which is slightly upsetting. What redeems this song (and much of the album) from monotony is the more refined guitar and drumwork. Still, this song is merely solid, nothing exceptional. (7/10)
Deteriorate: The first of three(!) ballads on the album. Good melody combined with a good mix of sound make this song better than its counterpart on Summer of Darkness, the almost Linkin Park-esque My Heartstrings Come Undone. It feels more focused than the aforementioned track and gets heavy at all the right times. (8/10)
The Soldier’s Song: Definitely a good song; it alternates between the metal vocals and the melodic vocals at places other than the chorus, which saves it from mindlessly following the same formula as Not I/Undying/Relentless Intolerance. That, and it has an extremely good flow to it. (8.5/10)
Fire to My Soul: This song, thanks to the effects used with the guitar, has a somewhat unique sound when compared to other tracks on the album. I have to comment again on the much-improved drumwork on this album; the drum rolls accent the vocals very well on this track, and the drum solos in general improve the album immensely. (8.5/10)
One Thousand Apologies: The second ballad on the album. It comes very close to feeling stale, with unoriginal subject matter and nothing exceptional instrumentally. The bridge with the metal vocals help this song, however, as the metal vocals contrast with the melodic vocals which permeate this song and the other ballads. They provide this song with a brief breath of fresh air; however, it needs a bit more. (7/10)
The Science of Lies: Similar to Beauty in the Eyes of a Predator off of Summer of Darkness, this song condemns the materialistic nature of society. And it does a very good job, with a focused message and minimal guitarwork during the verses. The drums during the chorus are extremely well-done, and like The Soldier’s Song, slight variations in the DH formula increase the effectiveness of this song. (9/10)
Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck: A surprisingly good cover. Demon Hunter does a good job of making the song their own. The staccato guitars and the focus on the bass during the first verse help the song have its own unique feel. I’m not sure why, but this song just feels extremely fresh. Despite its secular origin, the song fits in with the album’s subject matter very well, especially with the lines “Expectations of my daily bread / Gives me the hunger to steal.” The grammatical error in said lines urks me, but I’m over it. I personally love this song. (9.5/10)
Ribcage: The last heavy song on the album. The intensity of the album wanes slightly compared to Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck, but overall this song’s very solid. May I mention the drumwork again? It may not be anything technically exceptional, but it just works much better on this album than on either of the prior two. Still, this song feels a touch too similar to various other DH songs. (8/10)
The Tide Began to Rise: The last ballad and the last song. From the piano introduction to the resounding last lines “If this is all the love my spirit can give / Just take it back tonight / There is not a reason more to live,” this song is simply breathtaking. The light instruments contrast very well with what came before, yet the song fits into place. It’s far more effective than any of Demon Hunter’s prior ballads; it successfully accomplishes an epic sound and provides the perfect end to an extremely good album. This may be somewhat pretentious of me, but in my humble opinion, it’s the best closing song since “Hurt” on Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral. (10/10)
So that’s it. Thanks to its relatively low track count (12, with one introduction, so 11 true songs), it retains the focused feel of the self-title but also retains the incredible production of Summer of Darkness. I would argue that the production is actually improved over SoD, but it’s pretty close.
Basically, this album is the most refined album Demon Hunter has produced yet. As I noted, however, Demon Hunter is approaching a formulaic stage that must be avoided for the band to continue in its excellence. This album is about as good as an album based on their formula can get; however, songs such as Not I; Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck; and The Tide Began to Rise prove that Demon Hunter is more than capable of fresh songwriting. Hopefully, their fourth album will provide more originality. For now, however, this album excels in its aims; it’s truly an excellent, well-rounded metal album.
Final notes: Demon Hunter, despite their Christian label, does not come across as overtly in-your-face religious music. I have recommended this to secular company as easily as I have to religious company. The Christian side of their writing actually provides them with an edge and a focus in their lyrics that few metal bands possess. Instead of trying to convert the listener, and annoying said listener in the process, Demon Hunter uses their spirituality to their advantage.