In the eternal words of Lemmy: ‘’We are Motorhead and We Play Rock and Roll’’. Well for NIGHT DEMON, it’s ‘’We are Night Demon and We Play Heavy Metal’’. The no-nonsense approach of the band has been heralded for years and this is their third full-length album appropriately titled “Outsider’’. One of the most hard-working bands out there doing utterly long tours throughout the world, living the dream.
I saw them back in 2017 for the ‘’Darkness Remains’’ (yup it’s already been 6 years since their last release) and it was something else. They play a lot of songs and their shows are quite long as well. The frenetic trio from Ventura, California never cease to amaze me. They may not release albums very frequently but quality goes over quantity for them.
They never shied away from their influences, never, hell they pretty much embrace the bands that influenced them to make music. It’s safe to say that many of these influences come up front on this release and this album goes a number of different ways. I was quite surprised by the song direction at times and this may be the most complete opus in their young career.
This is a rare case of an album I needed to listen to multiple times and each time I listened to it, I discovered something, another facet of a song, an influence here and there. That’s the mark of some maturity and you do not grasp the magnitude of each song until you take the time to listen to it more than once. I usually only listen to the album once and I know where I am going but I needed to dig deeper this time to really understand the band.
The band has grown since ‘’Darkness Remains’’, maybe it’s time, or maybe it’s the influence of Jarvis Leatherby’s other band, the legendary CIRITH UNGOL. I don’t really know but there is something really different about the vibe of the band on this album compared to what I have heard before. It’s a step in another direction, it’s experimenting with their sound and adding other influences to the mix. The full frontal assault of traditional Heavy Metal takes a backseat at times on a few songs but that’s not a bad thing at all.
‘’Outsider’’ has this Punk Rock feel about it, the title track reminds me a whole lot of the Punk Rock era of the early to mid-90s, especially BAD RELIGION. I had these flashbacks when I started high school and discovered bands like that before I was really entrenched in Heavy Metal in 1993. It still has some really heavy elements but this was a throwback to the early ’90s Punk scene and I felt a tinge of nostalgia…
‘’Obsidian’’ sounds like something KING DIAMOND would have done back in the eighties, it has the same rhythm and the same eerie feeling about it. I just absolutely loved this track and other than the fact that Jarvis can’t reach those high notes like the King, this was damn good and extremely catchy. I know they loved 80’s bands like MERCYFUL FATE and this was no surprise to hear some influences from one of the very best bands to ever do it.
‘’Beyond the Grave’’ has some early Doom/Sludge Metal elements in it, it’s one of the slowest songs on the album and it’s a respite from the first few tracks. I enjoyed it quite a bit, it makes us pay attention and shows another side of what they can do. I can definitely hear a bit of BLACK SABBATH and some SLEEP as well thrown in for good measure. An enjoyable track that breaks from the path that’s for sure. The message is quite strong on this one, it reminds me of a lyric from one of my very favorite bands, DREAM THEATER: ‘’Don’t Weep on My Grave because I am no longer here’’. It’s the eternal question of what happens when our time has come, what is beyond our grave and the etchings? What comes of the body, the spirit, it’s been something on our minds since the dawn of time.
‘’Rebirth’’ reminds me a whole lot of QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, when they were at their peak during the ‘’Songs for the Deaf’’ era mixed in with some old-school Heavy Metal goodness. I think this may be my favorite track, I have not even listened to QOTSA in the last few years and this makes me want to listen to them so I guess that’s a good start! They have not done anything lately, they are really overdue in my honest opinion….
‘’Escape from Beyond’’ is the most uneven song on the album, but that does not mean it’s bad..not at all. It feels like two songs rolled into one (remember ‘’Diadems’’ by MEGADETH?), the song starts like good old NWOBHM mixed with the awesomeness of the highly underrated ENFORCER. I thought we were having an old-school nod but it turns out to be something quite different. The main riff is something akin to JUDAS PRIEST but the rest of the song reminds me of the title track. It has some 90’s Punk Rock attitude and it’s an odd mix but it’s a good song. I feel it could be one or the other and both styles don’t mesh that well together but that’s my take on it.
I don’t have much to say about the last two songs, they are good but not as memorable as the rest of the album, especially ‘’A Wake’’ which is not awfully great but the last song is good yet a bit too long for my taste. Both songs are obviously something different from the rest of the album but I was not overly impressed even after a few listenings honestly.
‘Outsider’ is a highly enjoyable 30-minute ride, with no frills and straight to your face like they usually do. It’s an ode to the past while looking to the future. Incorporating influences far and wide yet without any compromise on their original sound.