There's definitely a new vibe in the Supernatural air.
It's pretty easy to stack seasons one through five as the first saga of the series. Season six was the first new step at attempting life after the near-apocalypse and the introduction of showrunner Sera Gamble, where season seven tried to revert back to formula but seemed to meander about.
But with season eight, things feel much more focused; the Winchesters are at the forefront, and the hunt to close the gates of Hell initiates a distinctive direction. It's as if new life has been sparked into the show and maybe new showrunner Jeremy Carver was just the trick.