"Darkness Remains" (Century Media; 2017)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It's a funny thing. Even though they live like three blocks from the offices of Rough Edge, I had never heard any of Night Demon's music until I caught them at the Frost & Fire festival at the Ventura Theatre in October of 2016. I was there to see the legendary Cirith Ungol, of course, who were playing their first show in front of a live audience in decades. 

It was amazing night. You had to be worried about a band that had refused offers to return to the stage for over twenty years but Cirith Ungol tore it up. And I discovered a number of bands that I had never heard about before, most notably Midnight and Night Demon.

It's ironic (if I'm using the word correctly and really, since Alanis Morissette, who does?) that I went to see the long-awaited return of one of my home town's most respected heavy metal bands and wound up being blown away by another band, who also happen to be home town heroes. Night Demon, like Cirith Ungol and Rough Edge, call Ventura home.

To coin the phrase used often by my good friend John K, let's "make a long story short." After the Frost & Fire fest, I bought the previous Night Demon album and loved it. You can see the review below. And I was thrilled when the band announced the follow-up, "Darkness Remains," which is the real reason you're reading this at the moment.

There. We're caught up.

Like "Curse of the Damned" before it, "Darkness Remains" is a solid slab of heavy metal thunder, with an astounding level of variety as well. There are tracks here with the razor riffs of Judas Priest, tracks with the galloping thunder of Iron Maiden (most notably the Iron Maiden tribute, "Maiden Hell") and songs that share the melodic classic rock feel of hard rock bands like Thin Lizzy.

Overall, however, I'm going to say this album is even better. There's a crisper production that gives the CD a fuller feel. No diss against the production on "Curse of the Damned," but it feels as though perhaps the band had a little more money to spend on production this time out. There's also a noticeable difference in songwriting and musicianship in which you can feel how much the band has grown since the last CD. Tirelessly touring the world's metal festivals probably has a lot to do with that. Check out the raging instrumental, "Flight of the Manticore," for proof.

What I like most about Night Demon is that they play classic pure metal as though it's not ... well, classic. And by that I mean that I feel weird calling their music "old school" or even classic for that matter. Although it brings to mind the titans of the genre, it feels fresh and alive and it kicks your ass, not with nostalgia but with power, energy and unfettered attitude. You can almost hear the band saying: "This is exactly the kind of music we love to play and we hope you like it. But, if not, well fuck you."

I love that.

There are two cover tracks here as well: The first a straight-forward cover of Black Sabbath's "Turn Up the Night" and a no-holds-barred version of Queen's "We Will Rock You" that ejects the chant-like chorus and adds a little speed ... plus a killer solo. It's perhaps my favorite cover of that song and I've heard a few.

If you've been looking for a new favorite heavy metal band -- and you're a fan of the traditional metal sound -- Night Demon are here for you.

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"Curse of the Damned" (Century Media; 2015)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I was fortunate enough to attend this year's three day metal fest, Frost and Fire II, featuring not only the return of legendary local rockers Cirith Ungol, but a staggering list of metal bands, many of whom I'd always wanted to see live and many of whom, sadly, I've never heard of. The festival was an incredible experience -- Cirith Ungol came roaring back to life -- but the even better news is that I discovered a handful of new favorite bands that I may not have ever heard of before but that I will follow from now on.

Interestingly enough, one of those bands, Night Demon, are based right here in our home town of Ventura, California. Yes, I am embarrassed that I never heard them before. They were so great at the Ventura Theater that night, I immediately went out and picked up their CD. "Curse of the Damned" confirmed what I had already learned during the live performance: Night Demon are a great metal band.

"Curse of the Damned" is old school metal in the vein of Grim Reaper with heavy guitars, driving rhythms and high-energy performances. It's the kind of album that, from the opening notes of the first track ("Screams in the Night") you know you're going to like the whole thing. It's classic metal in the true sense and, what I love most about this CD, is that not only is the band unabashedly proud to play heavy metal, they relish in it.

The CD starts of with "Scream in the Night," one of the tracks that sounded really great live. It's a fast-paced number with an irresistible guitar riff that just sucks you in. It's one of my favorite of the 12 tracks here, along with the Motorhead-paced "Full Speed Ahead" and "Mastermind" which has a great guitar tone that I love.

Yeah, some of the lyrics are a little cheesy, such as on "Satan" and "Killer," but that's part of the whole package anyway, isn't it?

Fans of classic heavy metal will absolutely love Night Demon's "Curse of the Damned."

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2017 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06 Mar 2022 14:38:32 -0500 .