It would be easy to write Night Demon’s second full-length album off as a mere repeat of their 2015 debut, which was in itself a repeat of various old school metal tropes. The Los Angeles trio still uses the same Saxon meets W.A.S.P. formula on here as they did on Curse of the Damned and this album is noticeably shorter in comparison. But on the contrary, Darkness Remains may end up being a superior effort due to tweaks in songwriting and the band itself feeling more confident than ever in their 80s metal sweet spot.
While Night Demon would rather rock out than change the modern music landscape, the songwriting is more varied and bordering ambitious this time around. Most of the songs still go at a catchy, upbeat pace but tracks like “Welcome to the Night” and “Dawn Rider” match the speed metal fun with fluctuating dynamics and tempo changes. Elsewhere, “Stranger in the Room” makes for a mid-tempo spectacle while the instrumental “Flight of the Manticore” provides a smooth transition into the all-out power balladry of the closing track.
Of course, none of the experimentation dares interfere with the party metal vibe that gives Night Demon their character. The straightforward composition of songs like “Maiden Hell” and “Black Widow” could’ve made them fillers if performed by another band, but the energy exerted will make the choruses on each of these tracks even harder to get out of your head. I must also admit that I’m tempted to give the album a perfect score solely for “Maiden Hell” referencing more than just the Irons’ most obvious accomplishments.
The musicians’ performances are also excellent but made especially interesting by the group’s three-piece dynamic. They’re occasionally prone to that power trio brand of chaos but there is a sense of tightness and structure more common in those classic metal quintets. The guitar and bass build off the drums well and synchronize to form a trebly grit while the vocals confidently deliver each line with an unrestrained yet still melodic style.
Curse of the Damned wasn’t a shallow album by any means but Darkness Remains sees Night Demon improving on it in almost every aspect. The songs are catchier than ever while showing a lot more variety, but the energetic performances should make this an endearing listen to even those who would deride the inherently derivative style on display. Here’s hoping the rest of the metal world will catch on to Night Demon while the proverbial iron is still hot.
“Welcome to the Night”
“Stranger In The Room”