PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Demon Hunter: The World Is a Thorn

Christian metalcore veterans Demon Hunter deliver the most powerful album of their career, weathering the storms of adversity to bring about an incredible offering of diverse metal.

Demon Hunter

The World Is a Thorn

Label: Solid State
UK Release Date: 2010-03-09
US Release Date: 2010-03-09
Label website
Artist website

Demon Hunter is one of the most stalwart bands in the modern metal scene, a model of perseverance in the face of adversity. This is a band with only two of its founding members left in the lineup, and all members, new and old, are involved in other projects, be they other bands, businesses, or jobs within the music industry. Thus, fans are lucky to see Demon Hunter tour once a year, if that much. However, despite their other commitments, the band manages to release albums on a consistent basis no matter what, and on top of that, each album they release expands on their previous work, making it stronger and more original. The World is a Thorn is no exception. On this, their fifth album, Demon Hunter have managed to top 2007's beyond-excellent Storm the Gates of Hell and set themselves well above their peers in the metalcore scene once again.

The most notable change from their previous albums is that Demon Hunter has increased the intensity of their music, making this album much heavier than most of their older work. The songs are faster, containing more thrash elements like sweeping single-note guitar riffs and machine-gun double bass. The title track is the best example of this, being one of the fastest songs Demon Hunter has ever written, if not the fastest. Also, guitar solos take the place of breakdowns on some songs, which is outstanding to hear from a band that used guitar solos far too infrequently in the past. On the songs that do contain breakdowns, though, the breakdowns are also faster and heavier than previously heard from the band. Even the slower, more melodic songs on the album like "Driving Nails" and "Blood in the Tears" are intensified, evoking more emotion with their exceptional compositions and beautiful singing. Every song also flows very well into the next, no matter how different the two songs might sound. There is no disjointedness on this album at all, escalating the quality of the songs that much more.

The vocals on this record are really what drive it forward and make it such a memorable listen. Ryan Clark delivers the best performance of his career on this record. His screaming voice extends to new ranges and styles, showing just how unique of a vocalist he can be. His singing voice is even more beautiful than before, delivering the emotion needed on the ballads to evoke the strong emotion that these songs deliver. The guest vocalists on this record also deliver brilliant performances. Soilwork vocalist Björn "Speed" Strid intensifies the pre-chorus lines of "Collapsing", making the song more than just another ballad, but rather a heartfelt story of self-doubt and helplessness that most listeners can identify with. On "Just Breathe", Christian Älvestam of Miseration (and formerly of Scar Symmetry) performs a powerful duet with Clark using both his unique growls and towering singing voice, making the song one of the album's most memorable. Finally, Dave Peters of Throwdown adds his trademark growls to the track "Feel As Though You Could", increasing the contrast between the song's aggressive verses and the melodic chorus. All three guest appearances are well-placed and tasteful, fitting perfectly into the album's structure as a whole.

Demon Hunter continues their meteoric rise in excellence on The World Is a Thorn, proving once again that the metalcore genre can be furthered with some thought and creative invention. This album is a testament to both Ryan Clark's genius as a songwriter and the entire band's prowess in musical performance, both in the big, defining elements of songs and the subtle minutiae that give each song that extra punch needed to stay memorable. Demon Hunter are still persevering, and it has paid off hugely on this album.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.