Demon Hunter

Demon Hunter

By now, you should know the drill. We’ve been having musicians from across metal’s grand spectrum pen brief guest columns for us on a number of engaging topics: must-read books, must-see films, and bands you may not know but absolutely should. Today’s column comes from Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter, who have a new album called Extremist coming out March 18.

I listen to a ton of music… both new and old, and practically every genre you could imagine (sans polka and smooth jazz). However, since I usually don’t refer to a lot of metal bands as current inspiration for Demon Hunter, I thought it would be a nice change to show some love to a few (possibly lesser-known) metal bands that I have enjoyed for some time. And to make things even more direct, I’ll be focusing on the specific sub-genre of Finnish doom… or possibly death/doom with the occasional touch of folk.

Omnium Gatherum
I am obsessed with this band. It’s hard to put my finger on what it is exactly, but there’s something about the unique melodies they create. There’s a profound heaviness and harmonious beauty happening simultaneously at almost all times. The vocals have a fullness to them that I wish I could achieve, and the guitar harmonies are almost reminiscent of At The Gates to me, but slower, with more of a trance-inducing groove.

Although the band has been sporadically releasing material since 2003, I first became acquainted with them on their fourth album, The Redshift, and in my opinion, they just keep getting better. Their newest release Beyond was my #1 metal record for 2013. The instrumental opener, “Luoto” and “Formidable” are two of my favorites on this album.

Swallow The Sun
I would put Swallow The Sun in a similar category to Omnium Gatherum, but with a slower build, raspier vocals, more varied structure, and leaning more on the epic side of things, with songs regularly spanning 8 or 9 minutes.

Speaking of epic, the title track from 2008’s EP Plague Of Butterflies starts things off at an impressive 34:43. Listening to STS definitely feels like more of a journey than with their Finnish contemporaries, but ripe with peaks and valleys, making the experience anything but one-dimensional. Their fourth full-length album New Moon is my favorite of the bunch. Standout tracks include opener, “These Woods Breathe Evil” as well as the eclectic title track.

Amorphis
Definitely a household name to old-school metal heads, but I’d imagine still widely unknown to most young fans, Amorphis has been churning out high-quality metal for the past (brace yourself) twenty-four years. Although their style has  varied over the years, I personally find their past 5 albums to be more my pace.

2006’s Eclipse saw the inception of new vocalist Tomi Joutsen, and to me, the band couldn’t have made a better choice. Eclipse is by far my favorite album, ranging from beautifully melodic to driving brutality with a subtle touch of folk. My favorite song on the album is “House Of Sleep,” brandishing a lead riff and chorus vocal melody I’ve always been very jealous of. Other standout tracks “Leaves Scar” and “Born From Fire” show an extremely broad range.