Night Demon Curse Of The Damned
By: Chris Davison
Well, I have agonised over this. I’ve had a couple of true metal albums to review of late, and I am quite a fan of the genre, to be honest. If I could commune with the teenage me, the younger version would be quite disgusted to find his fatter, albeit more charming and better educated, 40 year old self listening to true metal. You see, I was a thrasher, and I used to turn my nose up at the likes of Saxon, Diamond Head, Angel Witch, and Judas Priest. You live and you learn!
Curse Of The Damned is an album that I wish I could like more. There are lots of ingredients to admire – accomplished musicianship, boatloads of enthusiasm, and some cracking riffs peppered here and there (“The Howling Man,” for example, is a riff salad, drenched in a memorable melody dressing), and a great, full sound for a three piece band. At first I wondered if the vocals of Jarvis Leatherby strayed a little too closely to those of Sean Harris (Diamond Head), or if it was that many of the songs sounded as if they could have been released on legendary NWOBHM label Neat Records sampler albums.
I think the issue is that this is an album that has some cracking songs on it, but that – curiously – they all sound a little dated. I recognise that this is a dangerous area to go into when reviewing a true metal album, being as it is a genre that has stricter genre rules than, say, the avant-garde jazz chasers of the post-black metal world. This also sounds like a ridiculous argument to be making of a band like Night Demon. My point is this: by sticking too closely to the blueprint set by their forebears, they’ve actually ended up drowning out their individuality somewhat.
All of that being said, though, Curse Of The Damned isn’t a bad album by any means. The songs are well played and carefully written, and the production has a notable mid-range clarity that really allows the guitar licks to ring out. The aforementioned “The Howling Man” is a minor classic, and is destined to get the crowds’ heads-a-shaking at gigs. Sadly, the rest is a little too derivative of the most average of NWOBHM moments to make much of an impact on this old carcass.