Darkness Remains reviews
HeavyMetalMeltdownReviews on June 23rd, 2017
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.
mjollnir on June 13th, 2017
There's a Stranger in the Room
Ventura, California’s Night Demon have returned with the follow up to their highly impressive debut album, 2015’s Curse of the Damned and they actually managed to not only maintain a forward momentum but create a much better album. This band was one of my favorite discoveries for 2015 with one of the coolest albums I have heard in a long time. Their brand of NWOBHM inspired metal was catchy as fuck reminding me of Angel Witch a bit while having melodies that remind me a lot of early Diamond Head. The debut was a breath of fresh air and with their follow up Night Demon are showing that they are in this for the long haul.
You know that this album means business straight out of the gate with “Welcome to the Night.” This reminds of the metal anthems of the early days. The riffs are fast and mean and the addition of the dual leads and killer solos this song just screams metal. “Maiden Hell” is 2:43 of raw energy. This one is more of a speed metal number with furious riffs as well as those melodies that remind me of Diamond Head. Jarvis Leatherby’s vocals really fit the music and the atmosphere they are trying to convey with “Stranger in the Room” being where I think he shines the most on this album. This song slows it down to a mid pace with killer riffs, huge melodies, and an amazing chorus. Halfway through it picks up the pace a bit with some catchy lead riffs going right into the solo. My favorite of the album by far.
By this time it’s obvious that this album is way superior to the debut. Not only did they top the debut, they did so without changing their formula. Instead they just wrote much better songs. Songs like “Dawn Rider” and “Black Widow” are furious metal songs that slay from beginning to end while “On Your Own” is a mid paced rocker that has some cool guitar work with some cool solos interspersed throughout the song. I believe that this progression could be due to the fact that they parted ways with the guitarist from the debut and added Armand John Anthony. His style is melodic with an almost 70s proto-metal sound. Whatever the reason it’s clear they meant business.
I was impressed with their debut album but with this release they went above and beyond. This album is not only essential for all metalheads….it should be required listening!The Elitist Metalhead
CHAIRTHROWER on May 8th, 2017
Like Thunder Through The Skull
The hard-driving, no frills and NWOBHM influenced Night Demon has cemented itself as a serious contender in “traditional” heavy metal circles with its sophomore effort, Darkness Remains released last month under Century Media Records.
Without further preamble let me just say it’s been dominating my airwaves for the past week. Now, some might consider Night Demon lowbrow or even unsophisticated, but that’s what I like about this simple but no less solid three-piece. In any case it has exceeded my expectations. Despite an appropriately gloomy prelude and epilogue, Darkness Remains is an exciting fun-filled romp chock full of campy, horror-themed wit and classic early 80s bravado. (At thirty-eight minutes, it’s considerably shorter than the 2015 debut, Curse of the Damned). I especially dig the middle of the album, notably “Life on the Run”, “Dawn Rider” and “Black Widow”, as these succeeding tracks do a terrific job of re-creating a compelling and timeless heavy metal atmosphere on top of showcasing the individual members’ markedly improved skills.
That’s not to say the rest of the album flounders in any way. Its brief opener, “Welcome to the Night” stirs the listener up without giving away too much too soon, in similar fashion as Satan’s Hallows’ “Reach For The Night”, and that’s not only due to the word “Night” in the title. Quick, bursting guitar licks amidst a jangling bass line and drum beat contribute to its success before “Hallowed Ground” gets down to brass tacks with singer/bassist Jarvis Leatherby’s epic and, at times, raw vocals along with Night Demon’s trademark sinister but congenial vibe which creeps into your soul on every listen. “Maiden Hell” is a ribald dirge in the same “evil woman” spirit as AC/DC’s “Miss Adventure” but with the juice cranked and displaying the expedient thunder of ”Ritual” from Night Demon’s excellent self-titled EP from 2012. These tracks alone are enough to satisfy any primal Night Demon cravings; imagine my joy upon hearing what’s to come.
One of the reasons I’m so taken by this release is the chorus to “Life on the Run”; it reads as the story of my life! Plus it’s such a hard-rocking, balls-to-the-wall number, I feel the need to blast it at peak volume around the clock. “Black Widow” is another arch typical tribute to female predators and sounds like a catchy cross between Iron Maiden’s “Back in the Village” and Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz”. It also features a wicked solo on behalf of Night Demon's new guitarist, Armand John Anthony, formerly of Gygax. His lead playing on "Dawn Rider" is no less spectacular. While I have no reproaches towards Brent Woodward's axe work on Curse Of The Damned, John Anthony has revitalized the band as a whole. On this first performance he truly shines and at times, even gives the impression there’s two guitarists as opposed to just one. Leatherby’s bass playing is a lot more intricate and developed as well. I really like the Def Leppard meets Tank feel he brings forth during the bridge to “On Your Own”, a hustle-and-grit hard-rocker with an anthem-like undertone which parallels “Heavy Metal Heat”, a definite highlight from Curse of the Damned. As for drummer Dustin Squires, he too brings his A-Game to the table, laying down beats with renewed vigor, except opting for a subdued tempo on the claustrophobic “Stranger in the Room”. His hi-hats on the bridge to "On Your Own" is a welcome innovation as well.
As for the parting acts, the instrumental “Flight of the Manticore” plays out like a respectable nod to Maiden’s “Flash of the Blade” while the closing funerary ode, the title track proper, sounds like something from The Groundhogs’ Blues Obituary record from 1969, thanks to Leatherby’s eerie chanting to macabre and vintage sounding chord progressions.
I’ll bluntly wrap this up by urging the metal World to bypass Night Demon’s naysayers as Darkness Remains is a fine landmark album and step-up for this unpretentious old school heavy metal band from Ventura, California. I, for one, have succumbed once again to its gripping spell.
“Now you’re burning down the road
Like the Devil in disguise
Look in the rear view mirror
Just a pair of blood-red eyes
Where you going to go?
Don’t even want to know
A place so far away from home
Life on the run!"
Mitchfynde on May 5th, 2017
I was initially pretty surprised to hear a new Night Demon record was coming out so soon. I quite enjoyed their first album despite the obvious issues. Night Demon plays oldschool heavy metal... throwback heavy metal. They are one of those bands that sounds like a tribute band that started writing original material for the hell of it.
The thing is, while nothing jumps out as being particularly horrible on this record, nothing jumps out as being particularly exciting either. It's total traditional metal by numbers. It sounds like Maiden, Diamond Head, Saxon, you know... it just sounds like every NWOBHM band with newer production and a more modern sounding vocalist.
Everything sounds competent enough. The riffs go from slower passages to mid paced rockers and faster galloping numbers. The bass and the drums are doing what they're supposed to do. The singer does a pretty basic mid-range thing with some instances of backing vocals popping up strategically.
It's the same thing they did on their first album, only this time it's really boring. I'm honestly not sure why the first record sounded better to me. Maybe it was the amateur vibe that gave it a certain sense of legitimacy? I really have no idea. All I know is that I've grown tired of this band way too fast and it saddens me to leave them such a negative review so early in their career when I really feel they showed promise.
Darkness Remains is passable, but I can't recommend it to anyone.
Twisted_Psychology on May 4th, 2017
Hooold Oooon! Don't Let Gooo!
It would be easy to write Night Demon’s second full-length album off as a mere repeat of their 2015 debut, which was in itself a repeat of various old school metal tropes. The Los Angeles trio still uses the same Saxon meets W.A.S.P. formula on here as they did on Curse of the Damned and this album is noticeably shorter in comparison. But on the contrary, Darkness Remains may end up being a superior effort due to tweaks in songwriting and the band itself feeling more confident than ever in their 80s metal sweet spot.
While Night Demon would rather rock out than change the modern music landscape, the songwriting is more varied and bordering ambitious this time around. Most of the songs still go at a catchy, upbeat pace but tracks like “Welcome to the Night” and “Dawn Rider” match the speed metal fun with fluctuating dynamics and tempo changes. Elsewhere, “Stranger in the Room” makes for a mid-tempo spectacle while the instrumental “Flight of the Manticore” provides a smooth transition into the all-out power balladry of the closing track.
Of course, none of the experimentation dares interfere with the party metal vibe that gives Night Demon their character. The straightforward composition of songs like “Maiden Hell” and “Black Widow” could’ve made them fillers if performed by another band, but the energy exerted will make the choruses on each of these tracks even harder to get out of your head. I must also admit that I’m tempted to give the album a perfect score solely for “Maiden Hell” referencing more than just the Irons’ most obvious accomplishments.
The musicians’ performances are also excellent but made especially interesting by the group’s three-piece dynamic. They’re occasionally prone to that power trio brand of chaos but there is a sense of tightness and structure more common in those classic metal quintets. The guitar and bass build off the drums well and synchronize to form a trebly grit while the vocals confidently deliver each line with an unrestrained yet still melodic style.
Curse of the Damned wasn’t a shallow album by any means but Darkness Remains sees Night Demon improving on it in almost every aspect. The songs are catchier than ever while showing a lot more variety, but the energetic performances should make this an endearing listen to even those who would deride the inherently derivative style on display. Here’s hoping the rest of the metal world will catch on to Night Demon while the proverbial iron is still hot.
“Welcome to the Night”
“Stranger In The Room”
Originally published at http://indymetalvault.com