The word ‘triptych’ is defined as “a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together,” and it’s also the word metalcore titans Demon Hunter poetically used to title their 2005 third studio album.
The Triptych is a pounding, seamless display of the band’s ability to masterfully craft an unforgettable metal experience. While their debut Demon Hunter and sophomore record Summer of Darkness were well done, there’s an urgency buried within The Triptych that makes it exhilarating and one of the band’s best pieces of work. 15 years later, it holds the same energy and power that it did at its release.
The album opens with an operatic, 30-second track titled “The Flame That Guides Us Home” before diving head first into the thunderous “Not I.” Commanded effortlessly by the signature growl from lead singer Ryan Clark, this song is built to set the stage for the driving, ambitious album ahead. And in a tasteful fashion, samples of the melodic opener are sprinkled throughout the gnarly bridge. This takes us into the third track and major single, “Undying.” Though at a glance it feels similar in flow to the single “Not Ready to Die” from their second record Summer of Darkness, “Undying” consists of a few surprising twists and turns, particularly toward the bridge. After Clark emphatically repeats, “We are the ones who will still remain when all is laid to waste. We are the ones who, when angels cry, will see them face to face,” the song barrels into a breakdown that could easily be one of the best of their career as the guitars, drums, and bass all fall into a harmonious progression toward the finale of the tune. Following “Undying” is the steady “Relentless Intolerance” and the slower, ballad-style cool down “Deteriorate.”
Track six brings the harrowing “The Soldier’s Song.” Lead guitarist Ethan Luck and drummer Timothy Watts are the unsung heroes of this song, providing a cadence of pulsating drum fills and perfectly planned yet chaotic guitar riffs. Clark sings of the honor of a soldier and the call to solidarity with those fighting for their lives and beliefs, reciting words like, “Armed with resistance and blind to the cost. They say your purpose is mindless and lost. But we don’t adhere to the slander they spill. We mourn with your losses and stand by your will.”
After “The Soldier’s Song” comes the vigorous “Fire to My Soul.” This is by far one of the strongest songs on the track list. While it showcases the band’s capacity to layer their parts together in a brilliant, cohesive tone, it also excellently sets them apart, allowing listeners to appreciate each element of their monstrous sound.
If it’s possible to claim a peak in The Triptych, the mid-tempo “One Thousand Apologies” would be it. Clark reigns in his booming growl to exhibit his pleasantly husky singing voice, filling the track with a haunting, emotive aesthetic. The main theme is especially dark—a component that makes this song a particular stand out on the record. The lyrics are unsettling and heartbreaking, with words like, “Then I hurt myself to see it too, to feel the knife I put in you. My heart as broken as my ways…”
Following “One Thousand Apologies” are the songs “Science of Lies,” the Prong cover “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck,” and the consistent “Ribcage.” This extraordinarily passionate record ends on a delicate, beautiful note with the closer “The Tide Began to Rise.” Though Demon Hunter has an innate melancholy characteristic to their words, they manage to continually dust their poetry with a hopeful and encouraging quality. “The Tide Began to Rise” is a quintessential example of this attribute, leaving listeners in a state of reverence at the close of such a fiery, impassioned album.
Demon Hunter has been captivating music lovers for two decades, and while they’ve supplied a vast array of incredible art to their fans, The Triptych continues to prove itself as one of the best things done by the band. It’s not always easy for an artist to say that the music they made 15 years ago holds a timeless property within its walls, but for Demon Hunter, it’s something they will be able to say about The Triptych for the rest of their career and beyond.