Night Demon Unleashes New Album “Outsider” (Interview)
Although the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) movement only lasted for a few years in the late '70s/early '80s, it was the starting point for modern heavy metal, most notably the US thrash metal movement in the mid-'80s. The traditional/classic/speed/thrash metal amalgam are genres closely associated with the NWOBHM, a sound originated by veteran bands of the scene such as Diamond Head, early Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Saxon, Witchfinder General, and several others.
Currently, the NWOBHM spirit lives on in newer bands such as Haunt, Pounder, Skull Fist, Eternal Champion and Ventura, California's Night Demon. Since 2011, the trio has valiantly flown the flag for traditional heavy metal by unashamedly wearing their influences on their sleeves… which isn’t a bad thing at all.
On their third full-length release, Outsider, Night Demon—featuring vocalist/bassist Jarvis Leatherby, drummer Dusty Squires, and guitarist Armand John Anthony—has crafted its first concept album. Leatherby took his time with the storyline and first wrote the album as a film script. With a touch of Sci-fi and B horror movie vibes—further enhanced by the '80s-inspired cover artwork by Don Phury—the illustration is actually based on an abandoned church and graveyard overlooking the sea in rural Ireland.
"We decided to adapt this concept and see if we can fit some music to this and see it through," Leatherby explained during a recent phone interview. "The basic concept is about a young guy who works in the family graveyard and he lives in this really small town. It’s surrounded by this supernatural green mist, almost like the Northern Lights. In this town, anybody who has left in the past has never been seen or heard from again—and nobody new has ever come in. One day, this guy gets sucked up into this green mist and ends up in the same place that he started; he’s back in his hometown. But things are different; people are different and things look different. It turns out that he's in some kind of an alternate reality where everybody he knows has lived a different life. He ends up running into a version of himself, who's not really the best person and some things ensue and he basically kills his other self and assumes his identity. He lives in this alternate reality, all the while trying to get back to where he's from."
Night Demon's 2012 self-titled EP introduced the band’s fiery style with a raw, unbridled energy that received a warm reception from fans and critics alike. However, the band had no idea that their musical career would take off.
"We had no ambition when it came to starting this band," Leatherby admits. "We just wanted to make that EP; we didn't really think anybody would care about it. We had no knowledge of the underground heavy metal subculture that was around the world. It wasn't until it was actually released that we discovered a lot of things, and that's what jump started us into making this a career. We thought we were doing something that had passed us by; we were just doing it for ourselves."
By the time their second full-length album Darkness Remains rolled out, the band’s sound was fully defined, which continues to develop with new album Outsider.
"I think with every album we have some kind of an evolution," Leatherby admits. "But when that album came out, we already had this as a full time job for about four years at that point. We were in the thick of it and we had to move forward. There was no other option for us; we were doing this band. When we made the first EP, there was zero pressure. As you move along, there are some expectations. But we've always tried to still be true to ourselves and make the music that we want to make, and our fans have stuck by us."
With the eight tracks on Outsider being fairly short with a 37-minute overall album runtime, it makes the replay value immensely high. Once the final track "The Wrath" concludes, you’ll be reaching for the repeat button.
"We traditionally write shorter songs than most metal bands," Leatherby says. "I’m not a fan of long songs unless they need to be long. The two long songs on this album need to be long, and they take you on a crazy journey; there's not a lot that repeats in those songs. And I'm a fan of short albums, too. If we come out with a 78-minute concept record, it's probably going to get one listen from the casual listener. The fact that it does have a lot of replay value is important to us. It says everything it needs to say in the amount of time that's there. So, we weren't trying to keep it at a certain length; when it was done, it was done."
Also boasting a warm and robust production, Outsider sounds remarkably similar to analog tape quality that harkens back to the old studio days. Leatherby explained that they recorded the whole record live in the studio.
"That's usually how we record; we record everything live," he says. "This album is really one piece split up into eight chapters, just for song purposes. But we wrote the album to be played non stop. We can play the whole record without any silence in between. We don't sample anything, we don't use metronomes. We play everything on it; that's something that's been really important to us. I think that's what keeps us old school because these days, some of these records… You think this band is incredible on record and then you see them live and you're like, ‘These guys don't sound anything like that.’ We're very conscious of that. We do not want to get into that mode, especially if you're a live band. And we definitely are that."
Throughout their existence, Night Demon has been a consistent road dog. On the Darkness Remains tour, the band performed three world tours, releasing a triple live album that they recorded on those tours. In 2019, they did a ton more touring in Europe. In the four years prior to the Pandemic, Night Demon played over 600 shows. Once things opened back up again, Night Demon hit the road hard again, playing over 100 shows up to present day. Currently, Night Demon and fellow California traditional metal band Haunt will be opening for NWOBHM icons Satan, for whom Leatherby has been their manager since 2018.
"They were looking for a new record deal around that time, and we had been friends for quite a while," Leatherby concludes. "Night Demon played a lot of shows with them at various festivals in Europe and such and they just hit me up and asked me if I could help out. And I got them a new record deal (with mMtal Blade Records). Then they asked if I would manage the band and it's been a pretty fun ride ever since."
Outsider releases on March 17th, 2023 via Century Media Records