Talk about metal albums I’ve had for what seems like forever…this is an album I’ve had since before I REALLY got into metal (especially the extreme styles). I did have a growing appreciation for the more extreme styles of metal at the time, but it wasn’t something I looked for until about a year after I picked this CD up. This was about the time where I was really getting into a lot of the more mainstream styles of metal like alternative metal, nu metal, metalcore, and some areas of the melodic death genre. And in case you were wondering, I actually wasn’t into screamo at this point of my life, that interest didn’t come until years later. I didn’t know this until someone told me, but Demon Hunter is actually a local band for me (therefore one of the first local metal bands I discovered). For those of you that can’t quite put your finger of what style Demon Hunter plays, it’s pretty much a thrash-influenced metalcore. I’m not someone that even pays attention to lyrical themes (let alone letting a band’s lyrics affect my opinion on them), but it’s very widely known that Demon Hunter is an openly Christian band. I honestly couldn’t care any less what their religious/spiritual beliefs are and don’t plan on it; that’s all I’m going to say on that matter.
I stopped listening to Demon Hunter (and almost completely forgot about them too) a little bit after the release of The World is a Thorn when my musical interests branched out in an explosion of diversity (primarily in the metal world). I’ve gone back and listened to them every now and then since, but not thoroughly. I’ve mainly just been listening to Not Ready to Die, Collapsing, and Lifewar. I’m not sure what caused me to want to listen to this album in its entity again a couple days ago; but it seems that I’ve COMPLETELY forgotten how amazing this album is! Probably the reason why I consider this album to be Demon Hunter’s best is because of its large amount of intense emotion it has. Although there are several other albums out there that have a much angrier sound, Summer of Darkness is one of the few that have a soft side that shows immense beauty.
Part of what makes Demon Hunter’s general sound so angry is the strong thrash metal influence (more noticeable in The World is a Thorn, but still obvious in Summer of Darkness). It’s the thrash metal part that makes the heavier parts even heavier, leaving the rawness of the metalcore side for the softer parts. So with this mix, you get two extremes, which is actually one of my favorite types of metalcore. But the thing is, it’s VERY hard to pull off without the transitions sounding abrupt or out of place. Demon Hunter is one of the best metalcore bands at making those perfectly smooth transitions from the absolutely crushing verses to the melodic, heart-touching choruses and vice versa.
The distortion on the guitars is very crunchy, but with a lot of mid-range and less treble to cut down the annoyance. The way the drums are set up is ok, it doesn’t bother me TOO much, but the kick drums seem to be a little too far in the background most of the time. I’ve never heard another vocalist that has mid-range screams like this guy. Here’s something that’s always puzzled me, his vocals have never sounded as good in any other Demon Hunter album; it’s like the producer had a fluke when producing the vocals. But better than his screams, this guy is one of the best metalcore singers I have ever heard in my entire life. It was actually his singing that first got me hooked on this band when I heard the beautiful chorus from Not Ready to Die.
Remember before when I was talking about how Demon Hunter is REALLY good at smoothly transitioning back and forth between a REALLY heavy and REALLY melodic sound? Here comes the disappointment this album brings. The first seven songs off this album are purely breathtaking. But after the seventh song, you notice the difference between the heavy and melodic parts getting smaller and smaller. This isn’t necessarily BAD…but it does lower the quality of the music dramatically and even ends up getting bland and tasteless by the time you finish the record.
I’m going to recommend this album to you, but only the first seven songs. The other tracks are very special and have their own good sound, but they don’t even come CLOSE to comparing to the first half of the record. I would give this album 16/20. Definitely a must-get for metalcore fans!!