Night of the Demon

Demon

Review score: 73%

Review Date: April 2013
Reviewer: Paul Jack
Source: Rock Hard Reviews
(www.rockhardreviews.com)

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Right in the middle of the NWOBHM (for the uninitiated, New Wave of British Heavy Metal) were a band called Demon. Hidden behind the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon etc., Demon were a solid part of the phenomenon, turning out album after album over the years. Their early albums are highly respected by hardcore British metal fans.

The first album from the Staffordshire band was entitled Night of the Demon, and came out in 1981. I remember hanging around a noisy little underground music store cruising through metal section and spotting the funky cover of Night of the Demon. Not the prettiest of covers, but it did its job and I eventually bought a copy. Now, of course, the album has been remastered and reissued along with extra tracks.

From the band name and album cover you might have been expecting Black Sabbath or Venom clones, but instead the sound was more like ‘Saxon meets Thin Lizzy’, or maybe a lighter version of Ronnie James Dio’s early solo work. Bit of a surprise that. Demon turned out to be something more melodic and dare I say it, classic early 80s hard rock with an even older feel.

The first half of the album (the Devil’s side) contained songs with occult lyrics not a million miles away from the themes Black Sabbath use. The second half was more traditional hedonistic rock.

The album begins with the atmospheric ‘Full Moon’, a mostly spoken intro which featured mucho cackling and B-movie horror keyboard antics. Is it Dennis Wheatley style occult fiction, or just about a baker having a bit of trouble getting his sponges to rise? You decide.

Joking aside, here are some playlist recommendations...

Night of the Demon

Vocalist Dave Hill wraps these supernatural lyrics around a traditional rock riff, making Night of the Demon a lost rock classic. I wondered if this was written about the 1957 black and white horror movie of the same name. This is an easily likeable rock track with a repetitive chorus and upbeat tune. Repetitive choruses seem to be a trademark in Demon’s music, making their songs a bit more commercial sounding but also more catchy. Night of the Demon has a very catchy riff and the remixed version is more polished than the raw vinyl release back in the day.

Into the Nightmare

Mal Spooner’s high pitched guitars chugging along to Dave Hill’s quality vocals, all swirling together to make a melodic rock tune about a scared, paranoid horror movie character. Easy listening, for metal fans, yet surprisingly catchy. Recommended listening, and one of the high points of the album.

Liar

A cock rock intro takes us into a throbbing bluesy tune. Raw guitars merge with flawless bass and a decent beat. For the modern metal fan this will sound like easy listening!

One Helluva Night

Another Saxon-style tune with a hint of AC/DC, One Helluva Night was a gig friendly tune which perfectly exemplified Demon’s early work. The song is about the hedonistic anticipation, and is a cool way to wake up the crowd.

Ride the Wind

An old fashioned tune bound to appeal to eighties bikers. The song has a good rhythm, a short, frenetic guitar solo in the middle and clear vocals throughout which will stick in your mind if you let ‘em.

Cover Art

Seems a wee bit tacky to me! Hands from underground clawing at a cruciform gravestone amidst a sea of garish green grass.

Conclusion

Proper old school British hard rock / metal. Night of the Demon may have been an early eighties release but it has a cool seventies sound.

It may seem tinted with a bit of Spinal Tap here and there, but Night of the Demon is one of those old-time metal albums which might have sold incredibly well had it benefited from greater exposure at the time. The re-release of Demon’s debut album is an opportunity for modern listeners to check out a sadly overlooked part of British rock history.

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Track List (may vary)

  • Full Moon (Intro)
  • Night of the Demon
  • Into the Nightmare
  • Father of Time
  • Decisions
  • Liar
  • Big Love
  • Ride the Wind
  • Fool to Play the Hardway
  • One Helluva Night

The following extra tracks can be found on the remastered, re-released version of Night of the Demon.

  • Wild Woman (Bonus Track)
  • On the Road Again (Bonus Track)
  • Liar (Original first recording)
  • Night of the Demon (1988 Remix)