Praise the Sinner is a Thrash Metal/Metalcore group from Edwardsville, Pennsylvania that came to be in 2010. It was initially started as sort of a local supergroup, featuring former Lowlyfe members Chris Mitchell and Tony Kruszka (bass and drums, respectively), ex-Ossuary vocalist Ken Ebersole, as well as Jared Warunek on guitar. Eventually Ken left and formed Prosody, and Chris to explore other music-related options, allowing Mike Valentukonis (also a former member of Lowlyfe) to step up and handle vocal duties. As it stands, Praise the Sinner remains a three-piece who just recently unleashed their brand new demo, a four song recording titled Demo 2014. But does this new effort show a great deal of growth, or is it simply a cluttered mess of ideas?

Like most recordings in and around the Northeast Pennsylvania area, Demo 2014 was recorded at JL Studios, which gets the job done well enough here. While a fairly crisp offering, the instruments sound a little on the weak side, something I've found to be common from this location. The main issue is when the music relies more on the strings than anything else, the flaws can come through. However, the drums sound great and, when utilized a little more to mask that sparseness, Demo 2014 does become a bit more robust. Had the guitars come through a little beefier, or even the thud of the bass kick that sometimes struggles to be heard, the impact would have been better. Thankfully the enthusiasm from the trio is captured, and the compositions themselves are really engaging on their own, holding the listener's interest in a way that the somewhat hazy, stuck-in-limbo digital meets raw audio quality doesn't always achieve.

There's a hint of Hardcore influence found in the start of "Wake Up Call", which does come as familiar territory for fans. There are some Thrash fuelled riffs a bit reminiscent of Kreator at times thanks to the raspy vocal approach, but its hard to ignore the Dying Fetus grade aggression found everywhere but the grim, melodic chorus. "Hide Them" has a little more technicality overall, setting up a dark atmosphere with some solid layered vocals that come through a lot more primal than normal that keep the atmosphere alive when the chorus drops the speed for simpler riffs and even a propaganda-filled bridge prior to a rich breakdown the drum kit perfectly fills and even makes headbanging mandatory the second time around.

Much of the points for the latter of those two can also be said for "The Soul and Barbed Wire", though some of the subtle war themes present in the previous song aren't here. In fact, the beginning starts with a rattling noise that sounds more like something a shaman prior to some kind of ritual or medicinal practice would use in an attempt to conjure a spirit, human or otherwise. But of all the songs on this demo, it's "Carol Anne" that stands out the most. The amount of energy in this performance is infectious in its own right, and the Poltergeist influenced lyrics help make the powerful chorus even more over-the-top. What's more, you can even pick up some similarities to "The Blackest Day" by Annihilator in the segments the build towards it, as well as the main verses the further in you get.

Praise the Sinner has come a long way as a group at this point, and Demo 2014 is definitely the proof you need. While this outing has some of their strongest material to date, you can still hear them growing as a unit, leaving you anxious to hear more as soon as the first spin ends. This four track demo hits hard right out the gate, though can take a few spins to fully appreciate. Fans of Thrash Metal, Hardcore, even some Melodic Death Metal will definitely find plenty of reasons to revisit these brand new compositions, as well as keep a close eye on this three-piece outfit as time rolls on.

Review originally composed for Apoch's Metal Review.