The thing with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was that seldom few bands outside of the U.K. were capable of reproducing it with full authenticity. It might be said that thrash metal was born out of American bands (OVERKILL, for example) trying with little success to reproduce the NWOBHM, then taking their own direction almost out of frustration.Cut many decades forward to Ventura, California and a young trio of old school acolytes, NIGHT DEMON, who no doubt derive their being from the obscure NWOBHM act, DEMON. Toss in flavors of early years JUDAS PRIEST, DIAMOND HEAD and TYGERS OF PANG TANG and you have the four-track debut EP, "Night Demon", that attempts to capture those vintage sounds to mixed results. There's a near-hilarious procedure of presenting an arcane nuance to NIGHT DEMON's lyrics on "The Chalice", "Ancient Evil" and "Ritual" where Beelzebub is simply a hang-about toughie from some retro, pseudo-evil corner that gave VENOM life. Prior to that, "Night Demon" chimes as a backdated hail-to-metal anthem full of the usual promises of fraternal plunder, rape and poser dispatching. One gets the impression NIGHT DEMON is hardly attempting to deliver shtick here, which unfortunately puts the joke on them. Rather, they simply believe that much in their muse to play it to their own convincing. The positive news is NIGHT DEMON comes up with a handy throwback palette to give their songs plenty of kick where those who didn't live the early days of heavy metal can live vicariously along with them. There's such deliberation to NIGHT DEMON's methodology in replicating the NWOBHM you can hear them trying hard to make it sound legit. For example, the brief plodding guitar and bass bridge on "Night Demon" or the feverish drive injected into the DIAMOND HEAD-fueled "Ritual". The PRIEST-flavored tinges of "The Chalice" and "Ancient Evil" get the job done well enough, but the presiding tone of the "Night Demon" EP is the lo-fi production value catered in the attempt to derive an early Eighties feel. The band is competent, make no mistake. Jarvis Leatherby's basses are tasty, while Brent Woodward's Flying V captures that old buzzbombed texture from long ago. John Crerar is rock steady, occasionally on the level of Dave Holland in JUDAS PRIEST's formative years. The differentiating factor comes when Jarvis Leatherby delivers the speedy "Ritual" with vocals set in the key of TIGER ARMY's Nick 13 (as he does on "Night Demon") while keeping a brisk, laboring bass drive beneath Brent Woodward's hyperactive strumming. As Leatherby calls for kids to "misbehave" on "Ritual", the band backs him up with psychobilly-esque whoa-ohhs, and the song becomes a nutty case of culture clash. While fun in spirit, NIGHT DEMON has a limited, nostalgic appeal that should lube some of the rusty gears of old headbangers while inspiring newbies that they too can herald the sovereigns of yesteryear. Thus "Night Demon" EP is worth a couple rides, at least.
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