NIGHT DEMON - Live Darkness
August 25, 2018, a month ago
(SPV/Century Media/Shadow Kingdom)
OK, full disclosure: I'm a fan and was actually at the recording of this mammoth length concert (2 CDs/3 LPs, via SPV overseas and dual Century Media/Shadow Kingdom issuance in North America). Rare that band's get to record a live disc so early in their career. Sophomore effort Darkness Remains was issued late April and the Beachland Ballroom show was early December! All the great live testimonials offer not only killer renditions of studio tracks, but (re)capture the energy of the live show (assuming there was any to begin with, and honestly, some bands, in concert, are virtual re-plays of the studio material, so why not stay at home on the couch). Anyone who' has seen Night Demon onstage knows there's an almost punk intensity to the performance. Often pressed for time (opening slots will do that) Jarvis Leatherby (vocals/bass) barely stops between songs, just delivering a constant barrage of headbanging riffs. In Cleveland, they blew through 22 originals and a surprise cover of "Evil Like A Knife" (by locals, Midnight, their nihilistic frontman Athenar joining the onstage fray). Truth be told, the evening ending "Wasted Years" (by Iron Maiden) encore has been left on the cutting room floor, undoubtedly the victim of rights/royalties permission.
Chants of "Night Demon" greet the subtle, prerecorded intro to "Welcome To The Night", crowd vocal as the band takes the stage and charges into the song. There's a slight delay/double tracking of Leatherby's voice, giving the impression this was a bigger hall than it is, in actuality. "Full Speed Ahead" has a rabid audience bleeding through, come the titular chorus. Fans are still cheering as Armand John Anthony lays down the chords for skull rattling speedster "Ritual". Fist thrusting "hey" accents Dusty Squires' drum introduced "Curse Of The Damned", a mid-tempo number, by comparison to what's come before. Speaking of the mighty drummer (how does he power through this whole set?), he also kicks off the "Dawn Rider" follow-up, with it's "Women In Uniform" gallop. Since just a three-piece, each instrument comes through, clearly, in the mix. Piped in organ intro gives everyone a chance to towel off, before somewhat mellow "Save Me Now". Rough edit, jumping right into upbeat, staccato "Hallowed Ground". Morticians might want to utilize this one, because if it doesn't get at least one of your extremities moving, you must be dead!
Only a third of the way through the rapid fire running order, neither crowd, nor band show signs of tiring. "Maiden Hell", cleverly working Iron Maiden song/album titles into the lyrics, blazes by, a few winks beyond three minutes. Jarvis has a brief monologue prior to "Mastermind", but "On Your Own" quickens the pace once more. Second disc begins with stormy (rain/thunderclaps) for "The Howling Man". 'Black Widow" and "Ancient Evil" rock hard, but melodic (a hallmark of Night Demon works). Best song introduction, when Leatherby asks how many people have the new album,"For the one guy, in the back, who doesn't have it, he's the "Stranger In The Room". On this slow, meandering one, can hear backing vocals. Audience participation, to fill out the missing part of the title "Screams In The Night", a blistering NWOBHM inspired reworking of Diamond Head's "Shoot Out The Lights". Hugh response on this one!
Just in case anyone missed it, during the first 17 song, "Flight Of The Manticore" is an instrumental, showcasing the band's playing ability, especially Anthony's tasty lead work. Bouncy "The Chalice" is when the hooded skeletal mascot Rocky makes an appearance, can almost see his gait, in the beat. Title track "Darkness Remains" is completely different from the rest of their repertoire: almost acoustic to start, it has more to do with lumbering 70s psychedelia than heavy metal. The "Night Demon" chants begin, even before the final keyboard strains have wafted off. "Heavy Metal Heat" (audience yelling entire title phrase) lifts the tempo, in anticipation of signature track finale. Yes, it gives an honest representation of what it's like to see the trio live (minus the claustrophobic surroundings and sweat). Shame live albums are typically exempt from year end polls!
Band is on tour throughout North America this August, before returning to Europe, for September.