Album Review(s): Demon Hunter’s War and Peace

  • Axl Rosenberg

You gotta hand it to Demon Hunter: it takes real chutzpah to release a double album (or two side-by-side albums, such as the case may be). It says, “Hey, world, we’re so confident our new material that we’re gonna put it ALL out, because we think it’s ALL worth your time.”

In the case of Demon Hunter’s War and Peace, that is absolutely not true. The band had one album of decent material.

Hey, I said Demon Hunter have chutzpah, not that they’re geniuses.

The good news is that, as their names suggest, War and Peace have decidedly different vibes, and it’s only the softer-leaning Peace that’s the real clunker. War may not reinvent in the wheel, but as far as 2005-style Swedecore goes, it’s pretty alright. Songs like “On My Side,” “Ash,” and “Lesser Gods” are heavy and hooky in ways sure to appeal to fans of latter day Soilwork and Scar Symmetry (they’re actually superior than most latter day In Flames, but that’s obviously not saying much). There’s even a decent Meshuggah aping in the form of “No Place for You Here,” which could pass for A Life Once Lost if not for the autotuned-to-hell chorus. War really only stumbles with the appropriately titled “Grey Matter,” which is so bland they should have called it “Grey Meh-ter.”

Or they could’ve just stuck it on Peace, a collection of dreary, mid-paced, completely competent and wholly forgettable tracks that sound like they came from a long lost Cold record. It’s not the worst pop-metal album you’ll hear in 2019, but it may be the sleepiest. Even its brightest spots, like the Depeche Mode-esque opening of “Recuse Myself” or the slowed-down Fear Factory riffs of “Two Ways,” are ultimately overwhelmed by choruses that pair well with cough medicine and the dulcet tones of Morgan Freeman reading Goodnight Moon. There’s only one track that out and out warrants its existence: album closer “Fear Is Not My Guide,” a beautiful song consisting only of piano and vocals, some of which are harmonized, none of which ever sound like they birthed by a computer.

There is a silver lining, though: the fact that Demon Hunter are releasing War and Peace simultaneously-yet-separately means you don’t have to buy ’em both. My recommendation? Make War, not Peace.

Demon Hunter’s War and Peace will both be released March 1 on Solid State. You can stream the tracks “On My Side” and “Peace” here and pre-order the album here. Pre-orders are here.

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