Ah, Christian music. It’s all hands reverently in the air and nice young men with well-behaved hair making nice music for nice people, right? Well, no. Not if Demon Hunter is anything to go by. With more tattoos each than Edinburgh Castle is ever likely to see (come on, that’s a good ‘un) and sporting bandannas, metal haircuts, beards and a strictly black wardrobe, Demon Hunter are not exactly Michael W Smith.
But Demon Hunter are very good at what they do, and what they do is Heavy Metal. Big scary guitars compete with even bigger, scarier vocals and every song is drenched in so much machismo you can almost smell the testosterone. This is not music for getting in touch with your feminine side. It is, however, music that lads (and increasingly, lasses) in their angry teenager phase can relate to. But can a band whose album sounds and looks like this (their logo is a goat-like skull with a bullet-hole in the forehead) be Christian? Singer Ryan Clark puts it simply: “We are a Christian band. We’re actually the band that stands out as one of the more outspoken Christian metal bands, which makes it funny that we get so many questions regarding the legitimacy of our faith.”
Lyrics on The Triptych are a mix of apocalyptic poetry, spiritual war-cries, hymns of personal struggle and savage denunciations of sin and secular materialism. It’s uncompromising stuff, on every level. Musically, aggressive guitar hooks with as much pop sensibility as metal can ever have underlay fast, gritty shouting and regular moments of melody that are so unnecessary and unexpected they verge on (but avoid) being cheesy. So who will like this album? Fans of the heavier side of rock and the main stream of metal. If that’s you, don’t worry. Your secret’s safe with me. But it’s more likely to be that sulky teenage ‘coffin-kid’ in the back of your church who can’t wait to leave the pew, the building and the faith. If they are into Slipknot, Korn or Soulfly, this might give them a reason to stick around.