THE top of the food chain in terms of classic, traditional metal anthems
I pegged Night Demon as one of five bands to watch in 2017. Sure as the sunrise, the California trio emerges as a power player with a new record entitled ‘Darkness Remains’. It arrives courtesy of Century Media and Steamhammer depending on your home. It’s only the band's sophomore effort, and even more shocking is the fact that the band is only six years old now. Is it just me or does it seem like Night Demon have been around a long time? I mean that in the most sincere way possible. I see their name all the time--on tours opening for God knows who in some far-off land. This band is probably one of the hardest working ones in metal. Vocalist and bassist Jarvis Leatherby echoed that sentiment in an interview I read a few weeks back. He said being in the band is almost like being homeless. Just the grinding tire wheels and plane trips have to take their toll. We’ve seen Night Demon tour with everyone from Anvil to Carcass. I’d be curious to see the number of live shows over the last six years. But I’m rambling and it’s time to get down to business--this new album is absolutely killer. Here’s why...
The band bring in guitarist Armand John Anthony to replace the departed Brent Woodward. Armand is a phenomenal guitar player and rocked my socks off on the debut Gygax album ‘Critical Hits’ last year. He’s the perfect fit for Night Demon not only musically but he’s known Jarvis for over 20 years and is the brother-in-law of the band’s drummer, Dusty Squires. All the stars align and Armand brings a really dynamic approach to the guitar sound of the record.
The album’s opener is also their lead-off single and promo video (which Jarvis directed), "Welcome to the Night". The opening whine of the strings is a slow burn right into a traditional metal romp that is punctuated by opening line “In the dark you hear it calling out to you”. It’s a skeletal finger in the black just beckoning you to come closer. The 2:30 mark has this slower “Where Eagles Dare” sort of riff and the vocal harmony on the chorus stays in your head for days. Speaking of Maiden, the band pays homage with a fun cut called “Maiden Hell”. They use the British act’s familiar lyrics and album titles as fodder for the lyrical word play. While NWOBHM is a main ingredient, it doesn’t exclude earlier sounds. “Stranger in the Room” has a grinding groove that could be early Sabbath. “On Your Own” runs the drum kit through 80s hard rock anthems, complete with an elementary chorus piece that simply sticks with the listener (whether you want it to or not). The group branch out a little and run the instrumental gauntlet on “Flight of the Manticore”. For me, the highlight of the record is “Hallowed Ground”, an eerie lyrical journey with galloping riffage and Jarvis’ best vocal performance to date. I’d put that song up against anything in the last 10 years.
Night Demon have surpassed the competition in terms of classic, traditional metal anthems. This is THE band at the top of the food chain.