When an artist wants to be truly harsh and blistering, density can be a highly effective tool. In avant-garde jazz, density is the thing that makes Charles Gayle, Albert Ayler, and post-1964 John Coltrane much harsher than AACM icons like Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell — and in metal, density is what gives Slayer's God Hates Us All a claustrophobic quality that you don't get from the old-school fantasy metal of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ronnie James Dio, and Black Sabbath. Density is a big part of what Demon Hunter does on this self-titled debut album; when the alternative metal band is in the mood for maximum brutality, it pummels the listener with a dense, noisy, highly abrasive metal/punk assault. But harshness is only part of what Demon Hunter does on this CD. While some alterna-metal bands like to be punishing 100 percent of the time, Demon Hunter's debut is an album of contrasts — an album in which moments of intense brutality are followed by hauntingly melodic passages. One minute, Demon Hunter is mercilessly beating listeners into submission; the next minute, it provides some breathing room and shows how thoughtful its melodies can be. And these two sides of Demon Hunter usually have a way of complimenting one another — more often than not, the band successfully pulls off this melody/brutality juxtaposition. That isn't to say that the CD is perfect; some of the songs are stronger than others, and one gets the impression that Demon Hunter's best albums are yet to come. Even so, the band's recording career is off to an interesting, if imperfect, start with this self-titled debut.