A Weekend with Night DemonTuesday, 2nd June 2015
Night Demon, Skull Hammer, Sonic Pulse – May 29, 2015, Firehouse 13, Providence, RI
The old school militia came out on a Friday night for the “Heavy Metal Heat” Ventura, California’s Night Demon would provide, along with complimentary local support from Massachusetts acts Sonic Pulse and Skull Hammer. Hitting this same venue 5 months earlier opening for Skull Fist, the band are determined to sow the seeds of a lifetime by touring as often and as hard as possible – their current North American headlining tour to last a solid 3 months. Fortunately for this journalist, they are playing back to back shows within an hour and 15 minutes distance from my home, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to view their wares up close and personal.
Doors would open at 8… and following a very entertaining spat outside the local McDonalds parking lot between a boyfriend/girlfriend and her relentless pursuit of his cheating propensity by way of his cell phone (only in Providence one of the club staff would mutter), my fellow DR writer Matt Bower and I would settle up with tour manager/lighting guy/merch man/all around cool metalhead Andrew Bansal for our Night Demon swag. This go around the band made special logo shirts in red, plus tour shirts with the new Curse of the Damned album cover and even a color tour program (who do you see doing this nowadays?) amidst their patches, buttons, CD’s, and vinyl.
Sonic Pulse hit the stage around 9:30pm, delivering a solid 35 minute set of their progressive-oriented party thrash. Guitarists Mick Mayer and Nick Petrino dazzle with their shredding abilities, but also throw down some solid riffs and songs to keep melodic aspects in mind. Performing a mixture of songs from their debut album as well as recent Adventure Metal EP releases, songs such as “Defender of the Good Times”, “Queen of Beer”, and “Jerkoffagus” along with their killer Megadeth cover “Hangar 18” set the crowd abuzz.
Skull Hammer would be the first 3 piece of the night, featuring a new drummer in their ranks (long-time thrash veteran Chris Gervais). This Massachusetts band doesn’t play around – they crush all comers with a brand of street level thrash that has occasional traditional nuances. Guitarist/vocalist Steve ‘Ace’ Hammer and bassist Nic Ferrero have a thick tone, making songs like “Pay It In Blood”, “Balls to the Bone”, and “Fear the Truth” head banging favorites. Preparing to release their next album later this year, expect more shows across New England.
Finally Night Demon closed the proceedings as the consummate headliners. Using a new glow in the dark backdrop, special lighting, and occasional narrative cues, the three-piece bring everything to the table you would want if traditional, NWOBHM sounds are your thing. Their hooks, choruses, and flying V interplay takes you back to 1981-1983 for sure. We would get 16 songs tonight, a solid swath of their self-titled EP plus latest album, including set favorites such as “The Howling Man”, opener “Screams in the Night”, addictive “Ritual”, and closer “Night Demon”.
The band also engage the historic side of the genre through their special cover choices. We would get three including Diamond Head’s “Lightning to the Nations”, Riot’s “Road Racin’” and Jaguar’s “Axe Crazy”. Bassist/vocalist Jarvis Leatherby was a ball of energy, exhorting the crowd to scream and wave their hands in the air at every opportunity. Guitarist Brent Woodward delivered quick hitting solos amidst the treasure trove of speed and power riffing. Drummer Dusty Spires pummels his kit, also providing the necessary background vocal support for the choruses that make you feel the metal stirring the air.
The band played as if they were performing for thousands, despite the tepid turnout. For the 50 or so attendees, that didn’t matter – they appreciated all the blood, sweat, and tears Night Demon gave from the stage. The trio is out to prove that their lifelong commitment will pay dividends full-time – and they are winning converts in the clubs and venues, just as the best in the business have in previous decades.
Night Demon, Reckless Force, Amadis, Sonic Pulse, Goblet, Monk – May 30, 2015, The Wreck Room, Peterborough, NH
The Saturday night show would take place a little earlier in the evening, as there would be 5 local openers from various parts of New England to fill out this Night Demon bill. Held in a separate part of a local pizza establishment called La Mia Casa, the rural southern NH surroundings suited the die-hards who came out well. Ample parking and good food made things settle in for a long night of metal.
Monk from Nashua, NH opened, a three-piece that had a sludgy, doom metal feel to most of their original material. Splitting their set between instrumentals and vocal-led material, the inclusion of “Working Man” from Rush in the latter part of their set was a welcome addition. The drummer played his kit hard considering the slow tempos – so much so that he proclaimed that the bass pedal went through the drum, rendering it useless for the last 15 minutes. It could have been a sign of things to come…
Goblet from Pittsfield, MA hit the stage next. Sans bassist, who appeared M.I.A… the band would fashion a cardboard cutout of him, who the audience would then pretend to mosh with, body slam, and eventually tear to shreds. Good thing musically they were impressive, as the band straddle the line between thrash and newer acts like 3 Inches of Blood or Black Dahlia Murder. Their sound is ferocious and they were definitely one of the loudest bands of the night.
Sonic Force would take the stage next. Once again their brand of power/thrash metal gained a lot of respect from the bands and fans alike. They slice and dice, divebombing through speed and even more off the rails tempos, harmonies, lead tradeoffs – often including bassist Sam Peterson into the mix. A similar set list to the Firehouse 13 show intertwining album and EP originals, closing with “Hangar 18” from Megadeth which would even impress Jarvis Leatherby from Night Demon (quote of the night… ‘they even had Marty Friedman in the band’ talking about look-a-like guitarist Nick Petrino).
Burlington, VT may not be known for heavy metal, but in that city resides the mighty Amadis. A five-piece traditional metal outfit that not only look the part (full leather and studs my friend), they also possess the sound to match. Everything from Judas Priest to Iron Maiden and Motörhead comes to mind when taking in originals like “Operation Rock ‘n Roll”, “Heavy Metal World”, and the guitar harmony/speed brilliance of “Armed to the Teeth”. Many newcomers walked away more than satisfied, and I predict lots of great things to happen for this band once they are able to get a new product out on the market.
By this point we were closing in on midnight, and New Hampshire’s Reckless Force would hit the stage. Expanding to a five piece definitely thickens their sound – which is old school to the bone. You never really know what to expect from drummer Dylan Lee, as often parts of his kit will just fall suddenly in mid-song to the ground. The band would mix in special covers like “See You in Hell” by Grim Reaper and “Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest along with their original material – so you can tell that they love their 1980’s traditional heavy metal acts, as vocalist Ben Wisniewski certainly loves to hit those bird call piercing screams. The band loves to party, live for the old days, and while not always my thing I can respect their undying dedication to the cause.
Night Demon hit the stage at 12:45am, knowing that most of the attendees were very hot and exhausted. They were able to use their fog machine to enhance the dark atmosphere in comparison to the RI show (fire regulations are super tight since the Station night club tragedy in that state). The trio tore into a quick hitting set list that may not have been as long as the previous night due to curfew, but still left the crowd pleased and begging for more. The smoothness of their songs, the transitions from anthems like “Curse of the Damned” and “The Chalice” to faster material like “Full Speed Ahead” or “Screams in the Night”, plus the inclusion of the epic “The Howling Man” made you feel as if you are witnessing a moment in heavy metal history that hasn’t been there for 30+ years.
People headbanged, circle pits broke out, fists were flying in the air, and fans screamed the choruses to most of the songs. The band prepares to win every time, and that’s highly commendable to build a solid fan base. Another crowd of 50-60 people walked away with hoarse voices, sweat dripping from their bodies, sure to encourage their friends about the greatness of Night Demon. Thank you Jarvis, Brent, and Dusty – along with tour manager Andrew Bansal, for an amazing weekend of live shows in New England. You are welcome back anytime…