Night Demon – Curse of the Damned (Century Media)Thursday, 22nd January 2015
Not as much of a revelation as they are a reminder of how convincing old-school metal can be, Ventura, CA’s Night Demon surprisingly landed on the laps of Century Media last year, becoming one of the label’s few hopes in the domestic traditional metal field. Such bands aren’t uncommon in this territory (i.e. Pharaoh, Twisted Tower Dire, Zuul, etc.), which invariably gives Night Demon a sameness to them that at a high-level, may cause the band to sink beyond tried-and-true metal realms, but frankly, there’s quite a bit of loose, juvenile charm to be found on Curse of the Damned, the band’s proper debut.
The power trio formation the band employs might not help in the always-necessary twin guitar department in the live setting (although our own Matt Coe says things sound just fine), so there’s no real tricks to Night Demon’s riff outlets. The rambling NWOBHM-like “Screams in the Night” has some flair, if not even a hook shot away from “Hit the Lights,” while the up-tempo “Full Speed Ahead” divides the proverbial line between classic British metal, and classic thrash. Yet a song like the magnificent “Satan,” complete with one-word chorus and harmonized vocals, as well as the spry “Livin’ Dangerous,” and momentous “Save Me Now” prop Night Demon up in ways that the album becomes more of a fun, throwback listen, than anything worth dissecting in the context of what’s happening now.
There’s obvious limits and restraints to a band like Night Demon, something the band has to be aware of. If they’re not aware, then no doubt the metal press will be, yet there’s no denying the band’s spunk, tied ever-so-nicely together by the vocals of Jarvis Leatherby, that pushes Curse of the Damned right into the heart of true metal’s illustrious core. Didn’t see this one coming, that’s for sure.