Night Demon – Darkness Remains
Label: Century Media
Release Date: April 21, 2017
Gene Simmons has boldly declared rock and roll to be dead, but that hasn’t stopped Venture-based traditional metal trio, Night Demon from crawling back out of the crypt. In a metal scene too often seeping with malaise and mediocrity, and shackled by identity crisis, Night Demon has harvested the souls of its forefathers to rebirth metal as the howling, riff-driven beast it began as.
Frontman Jarvis Leatherby, who handles vocals and bass, began Night Demon as a journey through the inspirations of his past. Bands like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, and the band’s that influenced the likes of Metallica and Megadeth. He found his foundation in the blueprints laid down by Jaguar, Saxon, Diamond Head, Riot, Tygers of Pan Tang, Savage, Raven, and dozens more. All of these influences bleed through on the band’s 2012 EP and its 2015 debut album, Curse of the Damned. Now two years past the record that drew critical praise and turned the metal underground on its collective head, Night Demon returns with its sophomore spawn, Darkness Remains.
Darkness Remains contains the last vestiges of the songwriting partnership between Leatherby and original guitarist Brent Woodward. New guitarist Armand John Anthony has now entered the fray with his own six-string evil that energizes every track on the record. Drummer Dusty Squires remains the band’s steadfast anchor and rhythmic battering ram.
From the opening cut, “Welcome to the Night,” it is clear that Night Demon has carried forth the sound from its debut “Curse of the Damned,” while also expanding on its signature sound. Darkness Remains is a more stripped down album that sounds fuller because of it. “Welcome to the Night” sets an ominous tone to pave the way for the NWOBHM-infused riffage that is to follow. Anthony’s guitar tone captures that vintage goodness with modern punch, while Leatherby’s bass and Squires’ drumming are off with a gallop.
“Hallowed Ground” resonates with the spirit of Iron Maiden, while “Maiden Hell” oddly enough, despite its lyrical homage to its namesake, comes across as the bastard lovechild of Dio-era Rainbow and Motorhead. The verse’s vocal harmonies on “Hallowed Ground” add fantastic depth to the song, while the relentless tempo of “Maiden Hell” adds to the playful spirit of the track.
The pace slows a bit for the Sabbath-esque groove of “Stranger in the Room” which finds Jarvis addressing his own issues with sleep paralysis with a nod to astral projection: It’s at once creepy and intriguing.
Fantastic harmonies between Jarvis and Armand add to many of the tracks on Darkness Remains, but they truly stand out on “Life on the Run”. This is the second track of a trilogy buried within the record that started with the opening track, and ends with the album’s title track. Anthony deliver’s fretwork on this one that harks back to classic Thin Lizzy.
“Dawn Rider” is a signature Night Demon track that embraces the NWOBHM influence with rumbling bass and galloping rhythms, while also establishing the trio’s own style. Armand does some of his tastiest work on this one and the harmonies between his fretboard and Leatherby’s bass stand out as part of the band’s trademark style. This track segues perfectly into the punchy swagger of the album’s newest track, “Black Widow,” a song that pushes Night Demon into new territory with its growing sound.
“On Your Own” find’s the band reveling in the more American side of its sound, on a song reminiscent of early Riot. Leatherby’s voice hits a huskier tone here and the band adds some gang vocals. The band follows this with the juggernaut pace of “Flight of the Manticore,” the band’s first instrumental, which truly highlights the trio’s individual talents, allowing each instrument to speak in its own dramatic voice.
The album closes out with the cinematic and broody feel of the title track, “Darkness Remains.” Leatherby’s voice gets a ghostly treatment from running through a vintage Leslie amp. The song has a haunted Spaghetti Western feel to it, like an outlaw on the run, his time running out. The song is farthest away from the Night Demon style and because of that it adds diversity to the album, and also showcases a different side of the trio’s personality.
For those that wisely pick up the Deluxe Edition, the band gives an inspired performance of Sabbath’s “Turn up the Night.” Leatherby’s voice really shines here. This is followed by an almost punkish take on Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
With Darkness Remains, Night Demon never strays too far from its retro-roots, but it also never gets stuck in the past. The album finds the band taking everything that made its debut album so powerful and pushing it all to the next level: Improved songwriting, more diversity, and tighter more inspired performances. The final result is a 10-song beast (12 with the deluxe edition) that is going to jolt your system like heavy metal Viagra. Two years of relentless touring has proven to be just what the trio needed to solidify its identity. Darkness Remains is an album for those who still bow at the altar and raise their horns to the great masters who gifted us with Heavy Metal, and Night Demon is a band for those who still like their metal without qualifying sub-genre titles.
Check out our recent interview with Jarvis Leatherby.