NIGHT DEMON - Darkness Remains
April 18, 2017, 10 days ago
Took long enough! The perpetual road dogs finally found time to complete the follow-up to their widely praised Curse Of The Damned debut (issued Jan '15, but living with press/pre-release copy prior to that). During the wait, fans cultivated high expectations. Can you deliver? Thankfully, the format remains the same: quick hitting (10 songs, 38 minutes, just two songs, plus moody, balls out “Flight Of The Manticore” instrumental, eclipsing four minutes), guitar driven traditional metal anthems. However, if the initial go-round targeted a late ‘70s hard rock/NWOBHM sound, then Darkness Remains would be the more refined product of the mid-to-late ‘80s, when America became the focus of the metallic universe: sonically less rough edged, with a big production.
First single (and horror movie accompanied video) “Welcome To The Night” sets the mood and has already been anointed to kick-off their concerts. After a subtle, double tracked guitar intro, it leaps (for the jugular). Stylistically, this trick is employed (to great effect) throughout Darkness Remains, “soft” passages (often abruptly) interrupted by a searing guitar run/spotlight. For a band fronted/guided by bassist/ vocalist/ spokesman Jarvis Leatherby, it's the axe of newly returned Armand John Anthony that rules.
Start to finish, the speedy, punked up “Maiden Hell” is a whiplash inducing cervical vertebrae strainer, Leatherby barely spitting out the lyrics fast enough. Those lyrics are references to Iron Maiden song/album titles! Speaking of Maiden, the prominent drum bits, to start, “Dawn Rider” briefly recall “Women In Uniform”. The initially slower, mid-tempo “Stranger In The Room”, while allowing Anthony to squeeze out some tasty notes, eventually develops into a spirited romp, with persistent, almost audible hint of keyboards. The staccato, old school riffing “Life On The Run” (heavier and sped up, courtesy of more double tracked guitars, following the first chorus) might as well be the band's mantra.
“Dawn Rider”, once past the aforementioned gallop of drums, rides six string hot rails to Hell. “Black Widow” is a film noir kind of femme fatale tale. Not sure how it would sound live without the aggressive double tracked guitar. “On Your Own” has a Sunset Strip feel, down to the gang vocal chorus. Won't be surprised if drummer Dusty Squires had a major hand in developing this one, given his musical preferences. With the guitar break, it's unlike most of the glossy ‘80s contributions, apart from perhaps the initial EPs by Great White and/or Ratt, when they both still had balls. The (gargantuan, by comparison) 5:31 title track closes out the proper album (there's a punky cover of Queen's “We Will Rock You” available on some formats) with an experiment, Leatherby (almost a cappella to start) singing in an echo chamber The reverberating vocals continue throughout, as the full band never gets above a gentle stroll. Ultimately, there's just alone synthesizer, aping symphonic strings. Swaying arms overhead, a Bic lighter/cell phone stadium ballad moment, for sure. Darkness never looked so bright!