By releasing two albums simultaneously, Demon Hunter hoped to offer fans two different sounding records with War and Peace.
Demon Hunter seemed intent on emphasizing the differences between War and Peace by packing the two albums with contrasting album art, the former with a black background and the latter with a white background, with their signature skull logo placed directly in the center. This aesthetic choice was an attempt to convince listeners that they were listening to two different creative works, but unfortunately they are presented with two albums of filler material with just a handful of great songs.
That’s not to say that these albums were terrible. Rather, War and Peace have several standout tracks. Of the two, War is the heavier record, with intense guitar riffs and shifts between galloping mid tempo beats that are perfectly suited for a live audience. When War loosens the reins and adds faster tempos and ferocity to their playing, songs like “Unbound,” “On My Side,” and “Ash” become heavier and more aggressive, as if they were specifically written for those fans in the mosh pit. However, the closing track, “Lesser Gods,” was the song that I kept replaying over and over again. Featuring many elements from Atmospheric Black Metal, this song transitions from haunting and gloomy to visceral and destructive. I was so impressed by this track that I would say that Demon Hunter should continue experimenting with this style on further albums, as it was one of the best tracks I’ve ever heard from this band.
In contrast to the heaviness of War, Peace is the more radio friendly of the two albums. Focusing on the softer side of Ryan Clark’s vocals, songs like “Loneliness,” and “Rescue Myself” showcases the versatility and emotion of his voice. The majority of the songs on this album are reminiscent of modern rock radio staples Staind and Chevelle, and would undoubtedly become huge radio hits once they hit the airwaves.
Unfortunately, while the songs I’ve listed serve as highlights from both of these albums, War and Peace featured too many songs that were derivative and indistinguishable from similar sounding tracks on their respective records. If Demon Hunter had eschewed the double album concept and combined the best of both albums, they would have had one of the best records of 2019 so far. However, by no means should hard rock and metal fans pass on giving either of these albums a listen. My suggestion would be to cherry pick the best tracks and make a separate playlist in order to get the best Demon Hunter experience.