Despite hailing from 21st century California, Night Demon are a band with their roots very firmly in the NWOBHM, encompassing influences from the obvious ones such as DiAnno-era Iron Maiden and Saxon through Angel Witch, White Spirit and Raven, as well as the first wave of US bands to in turn have been influenced by the resurgent UK scene of the late ’70s and early ’80s, such as Metallica and, to a greater extent, Riot and Anvil.
The song titles, such as ‘Screams In The Night’, ‘Full Speed Ahead’ ‘Run For Your Lifeand even the album artwork, show the band – a classic three-piece, very much in the Raven mould – wearing their influences very much on their sleeves (or should that be their denim cutoffs?). And the songs are exactly what you would expect, treading the sort of retro path which the likes of White Wizzard, Skull Fist, Amulet and others have trodden before them.
Now, I’m not a massive fan of the “retro” movement that seems to be in vogue at the moment – but, at the same time, however, neither do I believe that music needs to be constantly progressing and producing new sounds/genres, just for the sake of it: I’m more of the old school “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thinking… and that is the impression which ‘Curse Of The Damned’ gives.
Musically, the three musicians – bassist/vocalist Jarvis Leatherby, guitarist Brent Woodward and drummer Dusty Squires – know their craft and purvey it well, while Leatherby has the perfect voice for this kind of music, lying somewhere between Paul DiAnno (in his punky attitude), Biff Byford (range-wise) Sean Harris (in terms of his intonation) and even Paul Stanley. The songs are well-crafted and pay due homage to the roots from which they sprang: ‘Heavy Metal Heat’, for example, would more than find itself worthy of a place in Raven’s back catalogue. And they’re played with an earnest energy that makes you genuinely believe in what they are doing: capturing the spirit of an era and transporting it into the modern generation in a way which is fresh and relevant.
My major quibble be the overall abysmal standard of the production mix, which is messy and incoherent and varies in volume not only from song to song but during individual songs themselves: ‘Livin’ Dangerously’ and ‘Mastermind’, for example, seem to get quieter as they progressively quieter – a trait they share with a number of other tracks – while the former also starts very clearly and quite trebly but finishes muddy and bassy. Maybe it was the band’s intention to have an Eighties-style garage production, but if you’re going to make music like this feel relevant to the 21st century, then I’m afraid you have to employ 21st century production standards.
Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable album which hopefully will help bring the classic sounds to which it pays homage to a new generation of moshers the planet over. The messy production is all that stops it scoring higher.
Screams In The Night / Curse Of The Damned / Satan / Full Speed Ahead / The Howling Man / Heavy Metal Heat / Livin’ Dangerously / Mastermind / Run For Your Life / Killer / Save Me Now
Recommended listening: ‘Full Speed Ahead’.
‘Curse Of The Damned’ is released on January 19 via Steamhammer/SPV.