Demon Hunter is back with their 11th album in the 20th year of the band. Exile is everything you’ve come to know about Demon Hunter, from crushing heaviness and aggression to carefully crafted melodies, all of which tell the story of how tech has taken over in the not-so distant future.
For me it’s hard to believe the debut album from Demon Hunter came out 20 years ago. For those who don’t know, the band was formed by brothers Ryan and Don Clark in 2000. Over the years, the band has released 10 albums won Dove awards, been on mainstream movie soundtracks, toured and played with a wide variety of other well-known metal bands, headlined festivals, and sold likely over a million albums by now since they were at 500,000 in 2010. As Ryan states, neither him nor his brother were great guitar players, so the band typically added others to handle more of the technical guitar parts with Patrick Judge joining around 2009 gave the band more opportunity to explore changes to their sound and then Jeremiah Scott joining in 2011 solidified the band lineup which has remained constant since then. Similar to albums since Extremist (2014), Jeremiah Scott produced and mixed Exile. For Exile the guests include Max Cavalera (Soulfly), Tom Englund (Evergrey) and Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest) who just so happens to live near Nashville and had Jeremiah Scott build out his studio.
To me, the more recent Demon Hunter albums can be divided up into the heavy aggressive tracks and the more melodic, emotional tracks and Exile mostly fits into that. When you combine that with the idea that this is actually a concept album, those differences make sense given the story. In the expanded, deluxe version, there are interludes at various points with narration, but according to Ryan Clark the idea behind the album was to make sure each song could stand on its own, so it’s not your typical concept album in that regard.