Made In Hell: Night Demon’s Darkness Remains Reviewed
Are you ready to rock?
When it comes to today’s Traditional Metal scene, few acts do it quite like Night Demon. Sure, you have a spattering of Manilla Road clones, a few bands trying to cop Judas Priest‘s British variety of steel and a whole heck of a lot of Sabbathian minions, but Night Demon? They’ve struck a perfect chord that mixes the poppier sensibilities of Thin Lizzy, the brute force of Motörhead and the grand storytelling of Iron Maiden. Yes, I just dropped all of those names. Yes, I’m serious. Yes, I’m sure this album was released in 2017.
First things first, if you aren’t familiar with Night Demon’s previous material you need to educate yourself right now. Follow this link for their eponymous debut EP and this link for 2015’s infectious rocker Curse of the Damned. Alright, so you’ve plowed your way through those? Pretty killer, aren’t they? Now, are you ready to have your mind blown further?
Somehow, some way, Night Demon have outdone themselves tenfold. Darkness Remains is the culmination of the band’s hard work and dedication over their short, yet strenuous, career. The hooks are hookier, the choruses are chorusier and gottdangit the solos are soloier! Most bands can’t manage to pull off an instant classic this soon in their career, but Night Demon prove themselves as a force to be reckoned with while their fist-pumping, leather-clad sophomore album tears apart all those who oppose.
“Welcome To The Night” opens the album with a brooding intro that immediately sets the tone for the listener. Spooky synth warbles and powerful, Floydian guitar string bends ring out while a melancholic acoustic guitar lies low in the background. The picturesque texture this paints is that of a low fog crawling through a graveyard, soon to be interrupted by a rather large man wielding a casket, aka THE RIFF! Immediately we are taken into a headbanging frenzy commanded by this mighty power trio. Vocalist and bassist Jarvis Leatherby is in his prime form here. Above the precisely executed riffs, he bellows his melodic vocal chant with a tangible passion that can be felt across the entirety of Darkness Remains. Fortunately, the band keeps up this impetus and second track “Hallowed Ground” is an absolute skull-crusher. The NWOBHM riffs and leads (which are magnificent) flow effortlessly from the fingers of guitarist Armand John Anthony while Jarvis’ bass sits nastily forward in the mix to add the extra crunch, pushing the band to their max. The expert drumming from Dusty Squires, whose performance throughout the entire record is flawlessly accomplished, keeps the other members in check and is the glue holding Darkness Remains together. I was lucky enough to catch the band as they passed through town last month and this song was the highlight of their entire set. As they worked through the intro into the main riff around the 0:22 mark, the place erupted. Hands flailed around widely in the air, heads were shaken to nearly painful extent and the groove got some butts shaking for sure. “Hallowed Ground” will rightfully continue to be a live staple and enter the ranks of perfect, straight-up, Heavy Metal songs.
The band continues their Heavy Metal escapade as the album rolls right into an Iron Maiden tribute song entitled “Maiden Hell.” Now, I would be lying if I said I did not have the biggest, dumbest, goofiest, most heartfelt smile ever when I heard Jarvis belt out lyric after lyric of Iron Maiden references and song titles. Lines such as “Drifter in a strange world, murdering in the rue morgue”, “Invaders coming for the children of the damned, the prisoner runs to the hills” and “If eternity fails, blood brothers will prevail” struck deep in my heavy metal heart and my appreciation for Night Demon grew. This is a band not afraid to wear inspiration on their sleeves and proud to boast the banner of heavy metal. Coming off of the third banger in a row the band takes a break to slow things down on “Stranger In The Room”, a doom-laden track that draws from Iommi’s work in the Dio-era of Sabbath, fitting hand in hand with epics like “Sign of the Southern Cross.” Afterward, the band is back to rocking. Still unrelenting, Jarvis leads his bandmates through a heavy metal assault, squandering any notion that the music they love is dead.
Darkness Remains continues on in this manner, producing banger after banger of hard hitting, heavy metal. Tracks such as “Life On The Run” and the pulsating “Dawn Rider” help seal the deal on this album’s likeability, while “Black Widow” shows the band’s ability to write a well-crafted song with hooks, tempo changes, and descriptive lyrics. Night Demon really ups their game and struts their stuff on the final duo of songs, however. “Flight Of The Manticore” is a raging beast taking flight from its cave. The main riff is reminiscent of Powerslave-era Iron Maiden and will empower even the tamest metalhead. Armand again performs a massive feat as he interplays lightning fast solo within the songs and has the ability to slow down for the most deliberate and tuneful solo appearing on the record. Album closer and eponymous track, “Darkness Remains” is a stunningly beautiful, melancholy filled tune with a clean jazz guitar driven intro and interludes that calls back to Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan.” As the electric guitar shocks in, I can’t help but draw comparisons to Clutch’s “Lady Of Electric Light,” a favorite track of mine from 2015’s Psychic Warfare. This bar ballad will bring a tear to the toughest biker as he guzzles down his last bourbon and beer, straddles his mighty bike and tears of into the moonlight.
Stepping aside from a songwriting standpoint for a moment, this album is huge. I chatted with Jarvis at the show I mentioned earlier and during our insightful conversation, he made a point to tell me they spent more time in the studio capturing the raw, live Rock n Roll vibe than they had previously. And let me tell you, it paid off completely. There is nothing I would change about the sound of this album. Normally, I can pick little sounds, tones, and effects that may bug me, but here, no way. Spot on, grade A, no frills METAL. Night Demon has mastered the art of album making and Darkness Remains is their magnum opus.
When all is said and done, we are left with one of the finest records in recent years, I really can’t talk this album up enough. If any sentence in this review has appealed to you, go out and buy this album, you will not be disappointed. I promise.
4.5/5 FLAMING TOILETS OV HELL