Night Demon – ‘Darkness Remains’ (Steamhammer/SPV) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Thursday, 04 May 2017 05:00

Night Demon artworkI watched ‘Back To The Future’ for the umpteenth time last night. And then I listened to this, the second album from Californian metallians Night Demon: and, I must admit, I got a severe sense of déjà vu.


That’s because ‘Darkness Remains’ – which shares its name with another album by a band whose name inexplicably escapes me for the moment – is unashamedly ripped straight from the heart of the NWOBHM era, and pays open and honest homage to the likes of Diamond Head, Jaguar, White Spirit, Angel Witch and even Venom through each and every one of its grooves.


Now, at this stage, it has to be admitted that not only are the bands from the NWOBHM years undergoing something of a revival – there are a myriad of festivals up and down the land dedicated to them, and they continue to sell out club venues on a very un-PC basis – but acts influenced by the style of music that helped to put metal back on the global map are proliferating at an exponential rate. It’s as if they are discovering that no amount of widdly-diddly wankery can overcome the power of a good solid riff… but, then, those of us in the know have been conscious of that particular fact for more years that we care to collectively remember.


Opening with a nice, if slightly overlong, guitar harmonic, ‘Welcome To The Night’ punches hard and heavy right from the off, setting a frenetic pace accompanied by a huge, thumping bass line. Jarvis Leatherby’s vocal is set slightly back in the mix, but that helps to add to the whole retro feel, and it still carries clear and loud, not overwhelmed by the other instruments, as too often is the case with bands attempting to recreate an “authentic” NWOBHM sound.


‘Hallowed Ground’ sees them veering into early Maiden territory, with Armand John Anthony doing his best to emulate the twin guitar sound – and doing a bloody good job of it: his harmony work is exemplary and his solos soar and swoop out of the speakers like an eagle searching for a fieldmouse. It’s great stuff: slightly clichéd – but, it’s extremely hard not to be, in any aspect of the metal genre, especially of the still that these demons purvey – but is energetic and enthusiastic. The references to the Irons continue with the raucous thrash of ‘Maiden Hell’, which rattles along at a blistering pace without losing any sense of melody and harmony (which is another mistake many bands of this ilk make, to their cost).



‘Stranger In The Room’ sees them ease off the pedal, with a slow burner which broils with passion, especially on the dense guitar riff, while Leatherby’s bass brings an underpinning menace. And a quick mention for the other member of the band – drummer Dusty Squires: throughout the length of this album, he is taut and precise, keeping the sound compact but filling it out where needed with aplomb and panache. ‘Life On The Run’ turns up the pace again, but is still relatively slow compared to the first three tracks, and again draws comparisons to a nascent Maiden, with Leatherby’s DiAnno-esque delivery in particular: but that’s no bad thing, and this is no mere rip off of the Maiden sound, which is used as the starting block for the band to build their own approach, while simultaneously remaining faithful to the roots to which they are so obviously paying homage.


The second half – or the B side, as it would be in old money – kicks in with the huge sounding ‘Dawn Rider’, which is built on Squires’ percussive precison, which couples with Leatherby’s rumbling bass to add the right degree of atmosphere. ‘Black Widow’ ratchets up the speed again, as the boys put their foot to the accelerator and hurtle headlong into sub-thrash territory: Squires’ double kick work is phenomenal and Anthony delivers a classic metal solo that is simple and effective. ‘On Your Own’ thumps along nicely, and features a nice little ease before the solo, which lets you grab a valuable breath for hair before diving back into the frenzy of the pit.


The instrumental ‘Flight Of The Manticore’ is a positive neck-breaker, built on a tumbling riff and another thrashtastic rhythm, before easing right back ‘Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’ style and then slowly building back up again: the sort of track that gets you breaking out that air guitar and making a complete eejit of yourself in the middle of the living while the neighbours gawp bemusedly through the window. The title track brings the album to a close in surprisingly laid back style, with a laconic rhythm, melancholic guitar and distorted vocal: it does sound a bit out of place, but it demonstrates the band’s keen ear for pacing and gives the listener an opportunity to warm down gently.


With ten songs in slightly less than 38 minutes, ‘Darkness Remains’ is an unpretentious heavy metal album: but, then, I don’t think it sets out to be anything else. It is a solid offering, which does wear its influences very heavily on its sleeves in many places, but shows a band maturing and developing. It also helps that this band have an incredible work ethic when it comes to touring, so if they make it to your particular part of the Überverse, then I would recommend that, if you’re a fan of old school classic metal done properly, you definitely should bow down and worship the Night Demon.


‘Darkness Remains’ is out now.


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