I have been waiting over three years for this album, those not familiar with this band should know I have been a keen follower before they released the first version of their EP (reviewed here: http://www.avenoctum.com/2013/05/night-demon-st-ep-sr). Roll on a few months/years and they have successfully played the legendary Keep It True Festival, done a US tour with RAVEN and are currently out on the road in the US with Skull Fist and Elm Street (hopefully the pending European tour will have some UK shows based on the music these guys play!). So, what we have here is a more focused NWOBHM experience, without the “B”!
If you are looking for comparisons then Angel Witch should easily feature, especially with the rabid opener ‘Screams in the Night’ and the titanic ‘Killer’. More riffs and melodies you can shake a stick at, plus, the vocals are top notch with a kind of warm tone to them. There are of course other influences, ‘Satan’ has a darker stance (Witchfinder General and UK band Amulet styled – with its similar pace) and ‘Heavy Metal Heat’ may have you double checking Diamond Head’s ‘Lightning to the Nations’ album for pointers. There are a good few influences, but more than that, ‘Curse of the Damned’ sounds natural, not an enforced retro look and sound. The arrangements and melodies are really catchy, just like those on ‘Run for Your Life’ that reminds me of some Soldier (UK) current material. Then you can cut your teeth with more epic tracks like ‘The Howling Man’. After an overtly long and frankly unnecessary intro the song this eventually comes at you in a few different parts, the same Angel Witch, Jaguar and Black Rose momentum, with plenty of variety as the song progresses and likely to be my highlight of the album.
I have read that the drumming has much improved with the addition of Dusty Squires, but the complete trio of musicians is where the real deal is, led by the song writing of Jarvis Leatherby. Then you have Brent Woodwards riffs that just keep on coming, when you think something will end, it flies off to the next level, the next riff the next piece of music and that’s going to blow all the cobwebs away from the pretenders that lack song writing prowess.
I know I am a big fan of this band, looking at the rating you may feel that’s biased, but I can honestly say that the last month or so has been ruled by this release. It plays easily time after time after time, it’s great for a US band to come out with this music and style, it is amazing for what it is within this sub-genre. Fresh, exciting, hard hitting and yet melodic with arrangements that are timeless and full of character. ‘Curse of the Damned’ is hopefully the catalyst to push Night Demon further and higher in Europe and beyond. They have put in the legwork, the results are fantastic. Bravo gents.
(9.5/10 Paul Maddison)