Who keeps it more trve in the land of metal, than Jarvis and the Venturans?
Words by Jacob Sanders (@themetalscholar):
Free of the chains of decadence that plague so many traditional metal groups trying to make it in the scene, audiences are graced by the humility and barebones showcase on display, courtesy of Night Demon, from Ventura, California. For well over a decade, the boys have been slinging punchy rhythms and catchy hooks that could easily fall within the domain of their mythic ancestors, their shadows long, and influence strong. What has become of Night Demon during their creative brooding in the midst of the pandemic? Their evolution has been much less a transformation, and much more the sharpening of a great blade. For what battle, you may ask? Their first concept album, the epic foundation for a bright future, endearingly titled Outsider. What awaits listeners?
Honesty, clarity, and simplicity are laid out in copious servings.
The frills of always expecting something filthy, dense, or unsettling are absent here, and that's to be expected when your band takes only from the purest examples of the genre. Musically capturing the essence of such acts as Diamond Head, and Foo Fighters, this trio from the West aren't straying as far from the path as their protagonist is, in a form that provokes feelings of head-banging excitement. From the tail-end of the prelude, an electronic ambiance falls away to the title-track, an all-gas no-brakes thrust of mainstream understanding that threatens the entire formula by doing it better with a single stroke. Catchy, and anthemic to the ears, this song features Maiden-esque frets that zig-zag this way and that, speeding into breakneck passages that are capped off by furious fills of the kit, a satisfying, and singular vision that come across easily.
The seamless aspect plays to their advantage, as Obsidian takes the reins in a galloping romp that keeps the pace quick and the mood thrilling. Powerful choruses are whipped with brevity as they're stolen away again, a game of rapid hopscotch the only certainty between each verse. It's an oddly casual level of technical proficiency that is dispersed with such clinical disinterest, the amount of back-to-back memorable riffs are too many to count, and this critic can't help but wonder why the focus is so often on wicked wailing solos, and not on evolving, rapid rhythms, the count of which has become too innumerous to clutch to a few, selectively. It's a gift here, and one that doesn't go unappreciated.
There are slow dances in the mix here. The sludge of Beyond the Grave's intro is merely a precursor for the hammer-drop to come, a bass-heavy crooning that is repeatedly offset by the pitter-patter of a building snare that hoists itself high on splash as the chorus sings a sad song of loss of life, as well as one's own identity. At the midway point, a quiet ascension takes listeners to a furious solo that erupts and dissipates just as quickly, fading to a bridge that holds hands with four-on-the-floor beats, shedding the limelight to an adeptly isolated rhythm guitar that brings back the speed of the thrust of the album so far, a movement in two parts that fold in on themselves, a full-circle journey that is bittersweet, and fitting. It's the Fade to Black of the album, and what a wonderful ode to the melancholic it is!
There are clear examples of the highway-rolling nature of this album, the free and furious fretting popping up on both Escape from Beyond, as well as The Last Day, a love letter to the ferocious years of Metallica, drinking deep from the well of speed metal in a way that both honors and challenges the previous norms, a maneuver that pays off when the concept album begs for a climactic ending that won't soon be forgotten. It's the kind of fun arrangement that bookends the story with a pulse-pounding conclusion of chants and deadly solos that spit ‘wah’ tone in a frothing sea of horses stampeding that sing to the greatness of combining two separate polyrhythms that meet in the middle and syncopate only on occasion when it's both exhilarating, and timely.
Outsider tells its own story.
Whether it's a doomed hero who is traveling time and space, or the hopelessness of being trapped in one's own domain while the world keeps its distance, Night Demon have turned the pillars that support them into stilts, and have placed their foundation upon it all.
Brilliantly-written, and equally inscribed with highly-memorable lyrics, this third album is the superior chapter of the band's legacy, illustrating not only a chemistry that continues to build, but a patience for honing themselves without losing focus on the goal. They're having fun with it all, competing for the attention of the audience, and leaving out the hubris of those whose variety is the all-spice to their formula. It's a shamelessly simple, triumphantly easy to love album that takes elements from everything listeners fell in love with in their infancy, molding it into a familiar sort of soundscape that does so much and asks for so little.
Anyone can get on board, but no one escapes without some scarring. Armand Anthony, Dusty Squires, and Jarvis Leatherby have stumbled upon the key to immortality; with time, energy, and a lot of patience, it's possible to deliver a nearly flawless execution of the gods of metal. The secret lies beyond the grave.
Outsider is available now, courtesy of Century Media Records! Catch them now, on the Hell's Decibel Tour, and snag your chosen version of Outsider HERE!
"Hell's Decibels Tour 2023"
w/ Satan, Night Demon, Haunt (Tickets)
Mar. 17 - West Hollywood, CA @ Whisky A Go Go
Mar. 18 - Oakland, CA @ Eli's Mile High Club
Mar. 19 - Las Vegas, NV @ Dive Bar
Mar. 21 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Aces High Saloon
Mar. 22 - Denver, CO @ HQ
Mar. 24 - Austin, TX @ Come And Take It Live
Mar. 25 - Houston, TX @ White Oak (Hell's Heroes)
Mar. 26 - Dallas, TX @ Amplified Live
Mar. 27 - Wichita, KS - @ Barleycorns
Mar. 29 - St Paul, MN @ Turf Club
Mar. 30 - Chicago, IL @ Reggies
Mar. 31 - Des Moines, IA @ Lefty's Live Music
Apr. 1 - Tulsa, OK @ Cain's Ballroom (2 Minutes To Tulsa)
Apr. 4 - Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
Apr. 5 - Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
Apr. 6 - Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
Apr. 7 - Mechanicsburg, PA @ Lovedraft's
Apr. 8 - Cambridge, MA @ Sonia
Apr. 9 - Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
Apr. 11 - Clifton, NJ @ Dingbatz
Apr. 13 - Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry (Decibel Metal & Beer Fest pre-party)