“Night Demon” Darkness Remains – CD Review (SPV/Steamhammer Records 2017) by Adam McCann
Let’s face it, one of the greatest things to happen to music in the last 25 years is the dawning of the age of the internet. Years ago, you’d have to trawl through music magazines or wait for it, actually go outside! Venturing into the nether to find a record store that met your needs and maybe, just maybe you’d find what you were looking for or gamble a chance on an album with a cool artwork on the cover. These days, life is much simpler, you no longer need to leave the house with a huge shift towards digital sales supported by the likes of iTunes, YouTube, Deezer and Spotify. These programs link and recommend different and related artists based on your browsing history, therefore you are considerably more likely to come across something new or unheard before.
Night Demon have that sound which harks back to a different era, that era is the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) which swept over the United Kingdom during the late 70’s and early 80’s and if you didn’t know any better, you’d say that Night Demon stood alongside the likes of Iron Maiden, Angel Witch and Saxon in 1980. But you’ll be surprised to learn that Night Demon actually formed in California in 2011 releasing their debut album; Curse of the Damned to critical acclaim in 2015. On the back of this success, 2017 see’s Night Demon release their sophomore album; Darkness Remains.
Curse of the Damned cut its teeth from the template laid down by Diamond Head’s 1980 masterpiece; Lightning to the Nations, even vocalist Jarvis Leatherby sounded like the offspring of Sean Harris and indeed, there are still songs on Darkness Remains which have the Diamond Head flair, such as Stranger in the Room and Welcome to the Night which would appease any fan of Lightning to the Nations and Borrowed Time. But, with Darkness Remains, Night Demon spread out in the NWOBHM territory with plenty of the songs pointing towards the Iron Maiden end of the spectrum.
The early Iron Maiden-esque sounds are littered all over the place, not only is Leatherby’s voice slightly raspier, particularly on tracks such as Life on the Run and Dawn Rider which gives the vocal delivery a real trip down memory lane to the first time you heard Iron Maiden or Killers with Paul Di’anno, but the song Maiden Hell basically tells the story of Iron Maiden through the lyrics – quite cleverly done if not a little clichéd. For the trained Maiden fan, there are little homages dotted throughout and this makes Darkness Remains much more fun as you play the game of: “oh yeah, that’s from that song etc”, for example, Welcome to the Night towards the end has the galloping high bass sound from Phantom of the Opera, whilst Dawn Rider settles into a riff that brings a smile to your face with a salute to Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
If you’re starting to think that maybe Darkness Remains isn’t for you, then there are other nods to other bands, Life on the Run begins with a riff straight from Judas Priest and ends with a high-five to Ace of Spades, whilst Dawn Rider begins with all the tenacity of Overkill. On Your Own would make any Kiss fan smile with an intro drum beat as near as possible to Do You Love Me? whilst Black Widow has a chorus of backing vocals that wouldn’t be out of place on Mötley Crüe’s Too Fast For Love with Maiden Hell having an ascending guitar pattern soundbite in the solo that is reminiscent of Pictures of Home from Deep Purple’s seminal album; Machine Head.
Darkness Remains is an excellent slice of NWOBHM and what you have to remember is that by no means is the album a rip off of Iron Maiden and other bands, it is a homage, a nod to a band who knows where they come from, taking everything in their stride and creating their own sound. Night Demon have created an album that is an absolute joy to listen to, not only are the tracks fun and full of the riffs and melodic breaks which make you crack out the air guitar, but each song is well crafted with the only average song being the instrumental; Flight of the Manticore. However, with an album that clocks in at under 40 minutes, Darkness Remains definitely leapfrogs the ‘difficult second album’, so what now? Well, more of the same lads. 8/10
Adam McCann / MHF Magazine