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Curse Of The Damned

Steamhammer (2015)
Rating: 5.5/10

Hailing from Ventura, California and forming in 2011, Night Demon is a traditional heavy metal act consisting of Jarvis Leatherby (vocals / bass), Brent Woodward (guitar) and Dustin Squires (drums). Curse Of The Damned is the trio’s debut full-length release, following on from their 2012 self-titled EP.

With traditional 80s metal being aped left, right and centre by a myriad of bands nowadays I’m often quickly jaded by such releases, but Night Demon are one of those acts that just about has enough charm to make up for what it lacks in originality.

Curse Of The Damned serves up 11 solid metal numbers, although it’s fair to say that they all kind of drift by with no real cutting edge. For me, the vocals are more of a watery whimper and lack any real definite, convincing power and the music is at times a tad tepid too, but for sheer determination effort I cannot fault Night Demon.

Basically, what the trio has done here is implement that New Wave Of British Heavy Metal vibe into their sound, with each track galloping along at a steady pace but often lacking bite or fire to scorch the ears. I’m reminded of the oaken joys of Diamond Head with a hefty batch of the tunes on offer, but there’s just not the songwriting prowess present to enable Night Demon to compete with the likes of Hitten, Stallion, Ambush, Amulet et al who are currently doing the rounds when it comes to nostalgic battering rams.

How I see it, is that at the moment heavy metal is very much back as a scene, but the bandwagons are bulging and creaking on their wheels, and so there are many bands who are going to flounder by the wayside for lacking that certain quality or drive to enable them to compete with scores of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden soundalikes.

Curse Of The Damned just doesn’t harbour the sort of standout tracks or magical moments for me to remember days later, and in spite of some solid drumming and nifty guitar work it all feels rather generic. So, while many may find a comfort in bands paying homage to the past, I’m struggling to come to terms with the suffocating mediocrity of tracks such as ‘Satan’, ‘Full Speed Ahead’, ‘Heavy Metal Heat’ and the likes, which although boasting high energy are all puff but no actual effect.

I guess if I was poked and prodded to pick a winner out of the pack then I’d opt for the opening ‘Screams In The Night’, which is a very much metal-by-numbers healthy gallop and does offer up an extra punch in the guitar sound, but while the 80s scene was no doubt clogged to the ceiling with bands churning out the same groove, I see no reason why I should fall for such derivation a second time around. Yes, I understand that there is always that need for nostalgia, but here I’m just not convinced by the bland vocal delivery.

Neil Arnold

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