Debuting in the early 2000s under fictitious monikers Sgt. Serpent, Chuck Knuckles, Utah Biggs, Arm, and John Gredal, the Seattle-based Christian outfit Demon Hunter deliver aggressive yet emotionally stirring heavy metal recalling a blend of Metallica, Slayer, and Godsmack. After ten years and a half-dozen releases, they hit a U.S. chart peak with 2014's Extremist and its follow-up, 2017's Outlive.
At their inception, they hooked up with producer Aaron Sprinkle (MxPx, Relient K) for their Solid State self-titled debut, which appeared in fall 2002. Their individual identities were later revealed as brothers (and ex-Training for Utopia members) vocalist Ryan Clark and guitarist Don Clark, drummer Jesse Sprinkle (ex-Poor Old Lu), bassist Joe Dunn, and guitarist Kris McCaddon (ex-Embodyment).
Summer of Darkness was issued in mid-2004, after which a couple membership changes occurred. Sprinkle left to join Dead Poetic and was replaced by Timothy "Yogi" Watts (ex-Lonely Hearts), and McCaddon exited to be replaced by Ethan Luck (formerly of the O.C. Supertones), who would later be replaced by Patrick Judge. Triptych followed in 2005, marking the band's first appearance on the Billboard 200. Their fourth album, Storm the Gates of Hell, entered put them in the Top Three of the Christian charts. The concert albums 45 Days and Live in Nashville arrived in 2008 and 2009, respectively, followed in 2010 by the all-new studio recording The World Is a Thorn. By this juncture, Don Clark had parted ways with the band, replaced briefly by Ryan Helm, whose stopgap position between albums was filled by Jeremiah Scott.
Continuing their steady rise up the charts, the lineup of Clark, Judge, Scott, Dunn, and Watts issued the group's sixth full-length, 2012's True Defiance. It proved to be their most successful outing to date, reaching number 36 on the Billboard 200 and number two on the Top Christian Albums chart. In 2014, longtime producer Sprinkle was joined by guitarist Scott for seventh full-length Extremist. Adding another strong entry into their pummeling discography, the set landed them at number 16 on the Billboard 200, their highest showing to date.
In 2017, Demon Hunter issued the PledgeMusic-funded Outlive, their much-anticipated eighth studio album. The band returned in 2019 with the ambitious double-album project War and Peace. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & MacKenzie Wilson