Sunday, March 19, 2017

Like Thunder Through The Skull

Night Demon - Darkness Remains

Century Media Records - 2017

Muthas, in my not so humble opinion, Night Demon is one of the best new wave of traditional heavy metal bands in the world right now.  Their debut EP was an unbelievably good slice of retro NWOBHM and their first LP – Curse Oh The Damned – was simply excellent.  That brings us to the present where the band is scheduled to drop their all-important second LP on April 21st.  So, will there be a sophomore slump or another solid album of traditional metal?  Well, I was lucky enough to secure of promo of their new album – Darkness Remains – and after spinning it about fifty times, I am ready to render a verdict. 

First things first though, there’s been a lineup change since we last heard from Night Demon. Guitarist Brent Woodward has departed and he’s been replaced by Armand John Anthony who was formerly with Gygax.  Also, main man Jarvis Leatherby has been busy fronting NWOBHM legends Jaguar, playing bass in Cirith Ungol and organizing the Frost And Fire Festivals for three years running.  Did the band lose focus with the new lineup and all their various outside activities and projects?  Thankfully, the answer is a resounding no! 

Darkness Remains is a tight collection of superbly executed traditional heavy metal and it’s crammed full of great riffs, catchy choruses, hooks galore, pounding drums and good vocals. There is a slight difference from their earlier material because Armand John Anthony’s playing style is heavily influenced by Thin Lizzy and his melodic riffing permeates the whole album.  However, it’s yet another cracking album from Night Demon that rivals the best efforts of the NWOBHM. 

The band rips right out of the gate with the lead track “Welcome To The Night.”  The song starts with a creepy intro and then blasts into a faster tempo.  It’s a quintessential Night Demon cut with varied tempos, a catchy chorus, a nice solo and occult lyrics.  Check out the excellent video for it:

“Hallowed Ground” is a speedy blaster featuring a pummeling riff that will definitely get your head banging with fury. ”Maiden Hell” is a very fun and peppy track that has lyrics which are all Iron Maiden references.  This song is very infectious and Jarvis even serves up a “Scream For Me!” Very cool!

“Stranger In The Room” is a mid-paced, epic spookster that reminds me of their song “The Howling Man” for their last album. The band is particularly adept at this kind of atmospheric track.  Well done lads! “Life On The Run” is one of my favorites on the album because it features some tasty and crunchy riffage and drops some really cool nods to other metal songs/albums in the lyrics – Thundersteel, Power Games, Hand Of Doom etc…  It also drops into a nice chugging riff at the midpoint and then transitions into a cool solo. 

“Dawn Rider” cruises along on the back of a “Heaven And Hell” style galloping riff and “Black Widow” is a classic “evil woman” song that has a regal/martial opening riff that dissolves into a killer up tempo pace that makes it another favorite of mine on the album.  “On Your Own” has a pure, classic 80s opening riff, “believe in yourself” lyrics and an earworm of a gang chorus that will lodge in your brain for days. 
“Flight Of The Manticore” is a sprawling, mid-tempo instrumental that definitely allows Armand to strut his stuff on the guitar.  I am a sucker for good instrumentals and this one is very good.  The final track on the CD and LP is the title cut and it’s quite the departure for Night Demon. The track reminds me of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” because Jarvis’s vocals sound like they are done through a Leslie speaker and the overall tone of the song is very melancholy. It’s quite the epic at 5:23 minutes in length and it fades out to some strings or synths at the end.
The digital download of the album also features two bonus tracks – a cover of Sabbath’s “Turn Up The Night” and a cover of Queen’sWe Will Rock You (Fast Version)” which is a very cool idea!

I also need to note that the album artwork is seemingly a homage of Iron Maiden's Somewhere In Time because it features loads of Night Demon references.  There's the band's mascot Rocky from the EP cover, the Curse Of The Damned cover, the band itself, and the building is the Ventura, California city hall. I'll have to pore over the LP cover when I get the vinyl, because there's a lot I can't see in the tiny digital picture I have.  I dig it! 


The Bottom Line: Night Demon has released another great LP with Darkness Remains and it’s well worth your hard-earned coin. I am sure this will be in my best of 2017 and you should pre-order the album at the links below if you don't want to suck at life:

As always, MAKE MINE METAL!   

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