Album Review: Night Demon - Outsider
Reviewed by Sam Jones
Night Demon have become a name synonymous with the old school. Heavily influenced by bands such as Iron Maiden, Saxon, Blitzkrieg and the like, Night Demon are a much loved and respected band that have managed to keep the old school alive and, through consistently quality songwriting, thankfully fresh. Formed in 2011 out of California, United States, their first EP was released a year later but it was with their first full length work, Curse Of The Damned, come 2015, that saw the band utterly explode onto the world. Perhaps more than many records at the time, Night Demon showcased how to to this NWOBHM-styled sound better than most and many would argue they still do. Their second album, Darkness Remains, followed suit in 2017 however things have since been quiet for the band. That was until earlier this year, where the band announced a new album in the works and a new signing on to Century Media Records, their biggest label yet. We were finally getting a new album after six years and I personally couldn’t have been more ecstatic.
Usually, I’d prefer a band forgo an introductory track and get us right into the mix of things, yet it works for Night Demon in this instance seeing as how long it’s been since their last full length release. It feels right to have us slowly eased back into their signature, NWOBHM-inspired sound before they truly unleash their full flurry. Once things are underway it is as if barely a second has transpired since that last record, for Night Demon remind us what made them the explosively breakout band back in the day. Their sound has a certain attitude to it, no denying that, but Outsider demonstrates the other factor that made Night Demon so endearing to so many; the considerable fun factor. As one is listening, you’ll become wrapped up in the songwriting and the flow their sound takes us down, but it’s such an easy ride to be a part of since the band render it with a high-octane presence that you can’t help but become enamoured with the journey from start to finish.
After quite a few records of crushing or downtuned riffs and muddied production, it’s honestly refreshing to encounter a record that has absolutely zero qualms with being viewed as a clean product. The super clean aesthetic goes hand in hand with Night Demon’s songwriting as it enables the band to let their riffs, licks, vocals and general mix bleed together all the more seamlessly whereby one cannot view any component as an individual force, rather Outsider truly is the sum of its parts. As a first time listener of this album, I knew that there’d be no way of missing anything substantial unless I was deliberately trying not to pay attention. The polish this record has been rendered with gives audiences total ease of listening, so should we be searching for a palette cleanser from time to time then Outsider is a sublime choice to opt for.
One aspect I don’t believe Night Demon are credited enough with, stems from their ability to write slower songs that still encapsulate their identity all the while remaining thoroughly entertaining for new and established fans. It can often be said that bands, enthralled by and wishing to create their own NWONHM-styled music, more often than not fall short in crafting variety on records of their own. As a result, these bands may still create quality music but it may fall short of the idols they’re looking to emulate and become stylistically one-note. That, blessedly, is the polar opposite of Night Demon; it isn’t long into the album before the band give us “Beyond The Grave, whereby it still possesses all the vitriol we know the band can harness whilst relaxing its pacing and allowing us to bask in its somber tone. They say variety is the spice of life and it’s reassuring to know Night Demon have yet to lose that capacity.
Naturally, the aforementioned production quality has resulted in a record that can be heard and enjoyed very easily but, the band still need to possess a quality performance for fans to believe the strength of the music herein. Nowhere is this more apparent than the drumming, which is some of the most electric and alive that I’ve heard of drums in quite some time. You get the usual patterns and songwriting you’d expect from the drums but there are instances we get these brief drum fills that enable the tracks they’re found in to take on such a greater degree of power. The drumming may be more acoustic or, like “The Wrath”, it takes on a far more baritone impact that only snowballs into greater and greater slews of power, thus heightening the music to more thunderous levels. It’s good to note how Night Demon don’t lay the full weight of their performance on riffs alone, spreading out responsibility to the full band in question.
In conclusion, Outsider is a welcomed record and demonstrates once more why the old guard’s style and sound should not, and shall never, die. There is always going to be an audience for this style of NWOBHM-inspired metal, especially when it’s been crafted and honed to be as good as what Night Demon have consistently been churning out for us. It’s relieving to know the band can still pump out material without descending into simple Iron Maiden and Saxon worship too. It’s been six years since their last album and in that time I frankly haven’t encountered many bands or albums that have managed to fill that void; cue Night Demon once more to remind everyone why they really are the kings of the modern NWOBHM sound.