Death

Album: Extremist (2014)

Songfacts®:

  • Demon Hunter frontman Ryan Clark told AntiMusic the story of this brutally percussive album opener: "We met as a band a few months before we started recording to go over all of the demos, which was a first for us. This little brainstorming session really helped us hone in on how we were going to approach each song. As we began to build upon 'Death,' it seemed pretty unanimous to use the track as the album's opener. It's different than any album opener we've done in the past, so it felt like a fresh idea. It's certainly not the fastest song on Extremist, but it's arguably the heaviest, so it really helps inject some guts from the get-go.

    This was one of the first songs I wrote for the record. I channelled some of the repetitive simplicity from 'LifeWar,' using that model as a prototype without regurgitating it. To me, 'LifeWar' was almost my homage to simple, driving hardcore songs like Earth Crisis' 'Firestorm,' whereas 'Death' feels more like a simplified Meshuggah track, or something from A Life Once Lost's Ecstatic Trance album - which I really love.

    The intro for the song took a few creative turns throughout the process, but we're very pleased with what we settled on. The idea was to take the main riff from the song and mimic it's key and cadence/rhythm with layered vocals. I think there's something like 24 tracks of vocals at a certain point.

    After the main pieces were recorded for the intro, Jeremiah built upon it with pounding drums and atmospheric textures. These additions really make this a 'headphones song,' because it's extremely layered throughout.

    The idea to bend the first note of the main riff was an idea that came to me after I recorded the demo. I think it adds a really dark, unsettling element to the part."
  • Clark explained the song's meaning to AntiMusic: "Lyrically, 'Death' speaks about being held to unrealistic standards. It is a statement of being broken or flawed, and warns against placing one's trust in man… any man, including myself."
  • The chant during the intro is "mors, obitus, decessus," which are three varying synonyms for "death" in Latin. Clark explained to Decibel magazine: "There are many words for 'death' in Latin, however these not only fit the necessary syllable structure — matching that of the main guitar riff — they were also the best suited by definition."
  • The tearing sound throughout the intro is of pages being ripped out of an old copy of Anton Lavey's Satanic Bible. Clark had had the idea for around five or so years before finally finding a fitting place for it.

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