Pushing PLAY on Night Demon’s “Curse of the Damned” album is akin to opening a time capsule. What comes out is the essence of a bygone era: a glimpse into the past for those who weren’t there, and a nice flashback for those who were.
But in this case, it’s all brand new. The trio from California was formed in 2012, and is now releasing their first full-length album (an EP was released in 2013). Navigating the waters between early Metallica and early Iron Maiden, the 11 tracks are a definite throwback to the early years of the metal age with influences like Diamond Head, Venom, Saxon or early Mercyful Fate. For sure, the spectre of New Wave of British Heavy Metal looms heavily over this band despite their press release that claims “…[I]t does so in a manner contemporary with modern times in every aspect.” There’s nothing modern in this record, and there’s nothing wrong with that
But much like Airbourne or Steel Panther (without the humour), Night Demon offers a heartfelt tribute to days long gone, and to play “spot the influence” while listening to this album would be to miss the point entirely. Only “Heavy Metal Heat” steers much too close to its source material for my liking (in this case Anthrax’s “Metal Thrashing Mad”). The opening track (and lead single) “Screams in the Night” is a roaring number that could be a lost Diamond Head single. “Satan” is a tongue in cheek homage to the lord of darkness, a favourite subject of early metallers, with its catchy chorus that goes “Satan – He rules the underworld. Satan – He’s coming for your soul.” Back then, your parents would predict damnation for listening to stuff like this, but today, it seems quite harmless. Lots of of fast tempo songs to get your head banging, and the more melodic “Save Me Now”, with its vintage Scorpions vibe, closes the album with a good old fashioned fade out for extra authenticity.
With titles like “Full Speed Ahead”, “Livin’ Dangerous” or “Curse of the Damned”, the band’s lyrics are in familiar territory for the genre, but manage to avoid falling into kitsch. It’s all in good fun, and frankly, if the sight of those Flying V’s, Marshall stacks and copious amounts of smoke don’t make you want to bang your head, then you might have to turn in your headbanger card.
This is a band that plays the nostalgia card, but in the end they succeed because the album is fun, well played and well written. I hope these guys will tour a lot because I’m sure they’re a blast live. And if you want to complete the vintage experience, the album is also available on vinyl.
The album is out now from Century Media in North America and SPV/Steamhammer in Europe.
Jean-Frederic Vachon runs his own music blog at Diary of a Music Addict