album reviews

Devilfire – ‘Dark Manoeuvres’

posted 8 Sep 2017, 11:15 by Paul Woodward


(Escape the Fire Records)

Review by Woody

Birmingham’s Devilfire is the melodic rock pet project of Alex Cooper and this debut album Dark Manoeuvres has been a long time in the works. It is an extremely impressive debut and the time, effort and love ploughed into this band by main man Cooper is clearly obvious in every department - song writing, musicianship, production and mixing et al. Cooper will be known to many from his work within the local music industry in various capacity’s including production/mixing studio work. As a musician though he is best known as a drummer but with Devilfire we see Cooper take the frontman role on vocals.

Dark Manoeuvres is a melodic rock album with a dark tone to it, hence the apt album title. It having an overall dark sound won’t stop it from still appealing to melodic rock genre fans as it is heavily influenced and inspired by the genre’s golden era. This isn’t a retro album at all though it has a strong contemporary and modern feel to it and to me is very relevant within today’s burgeoning rock music scene regardless of the inspirations behind it’s melodic rock core.

I can see Devilfire appealing to a younger rock audience than you tend to associate with melodic rock because of that contemporary edge to the album. That said though old guard melodic rockers like myself will still want to eat this up with relish and demand for more!

The songs are evocative, rousing and inspiring and there is a good mix of flows and energy amongst this thirteen-track juggernaut which never fails to hit all the right spots. Cooper was keen for his songs to connect with listeners and has been an open book with his song writing with many of the songs been deeply personal. Cooper has definitely achieved his desire to create a relatable album that people can connect with, although lyrically diverse it is always connectable. As I’ve stated before songs that I can connect with always have a deeper impact on me and stay with me longer and I think anyone who listens to Dark Manoeuvres will agree with me that it is an album that will never gather dust on the shelf and will be a constant source of enjoyment.

Cooper has a touch of Ian Astbury of The Cult to his vocals and delivery and there is a touch of The Cult to Devilfire, that dark mildly gothic tone for example. Cooper may not beat Vaughn or Soto in the vocal stakes (not many can!) but he is really good at conveying the emotion of a song and lyric in the way he wants it to be felt, his raspy gritty angry bites which appear occasionally are particular effective.

One of my personal favourite songs is ‘Kill Your Love’ which has some really hook filled keyboard parts and the massive unforgettable chorus is immense! ‘She’s Like Fire’ is instantly enjoyable and is probably their most catchy song, it’s a little bit old school and it has a chorus you will never ever get out of your head! Other choice cuts are the rousing ‘Ready For War’, the punchy ‘Lay It One The Line’, the inspiring war cry of ‘(You Gotta) Revolution’ and the sparse ballad ‘Somehow’ which I’m sure everyone can connect with on some level.

Although this is a debut album it’s not a band showing potential or room for growth, Devilfire are at the top of their game as a fully-fledged band with a stunning collection of songs destined to become very popular with rock aficionados. Dark Manoeuvres is one of the most impressive debuts I’ve heard in a while and are a welcome addition to the melodic rock scene. If this album doesn’t see Devilfire causing waves and generating excitement amongst rockers there is no justice in the world! Devilfire are the real deal so strap yourselves in and prepare to be blown away!

Track Listing: Ready For War / She’s Like Fire / (In and Out of Love) All The Time / Waiting For A Rockstar / Lay It On The Line / Kill Your Love / Tear Me Apart / God Give Me Vengeance / Devil In Your Eyes / (You Gotta) Revolution / She’s Always on the Run / A Thousand Times / Somehow

Album Rating: 9/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Kill Your Love

Reece – ‘Ignited’

posted 7 Sep 2017, 12:19 by Paul Woodward


(Independent)

Review by Woody

If there is one word that sums up Ignited the debut album from Welsh rockers Reece it is F-F-Funky! The album is funk driven and it forms the backbone of the album in its entirety. Whilst there are no obvious comparisons as there are a few bands that come to mind throughout including U2 and The Proclaimers! That said though the Funk element to these songs obviously gravitates me towards Extreme and with the alt rock touch, especially in the guitars, turns me towards the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. They have a really mish mash of influences in their song writing but their sound is cohesive, defined and very distinctive.

Vocalist Rob Reece has a very smooth and melodious voice which boosts the highly melodic style of the songs. You add that to the heavy use of vocal harmonies and they have created a lot of smooth melodies and that gives the album as a whole a strong melodic rock feel – regardless of the other alt rock and funky edges the band has. The quirky and sharp guitar licks and riffs blend well with the funky rhythm section and accentuate the Funk much like the RHCP do.

The flow of the album is energetic and very bouncy – the obvious radio song ‘Hold On’ highlights that! It’s an infectious rocker with an utterly addictive chorus. Other highlights include ‘Falling Down’ with its killer guitar hook and impactful chorus and the melancholic title track ‘Ignited’. Bare bones ballad ‘Lost In Translation’ shows a different side to the band with its sparse and acoustic nature proving the band aren’t a one trick pony when it comes to song writing.

I have had the pleasure of seeing the band live and I found that these songs come across even better live. That energy and bounce inducing feeling comes across in spades and the vocal melodies are even more impactful – especially with the prominent backing vocal harmonies.

Ignited is a very strong and solid overall album with no weak tracks not only was I very impressed with it I also really enjoyed the album. Some quality song writing makes this album a must listen for rock fans in general regardless of personal musical preferences as I think it will appeal to a wide range of rockers given its amalgam of influences.

Track Listing: Save Us / Falling Down / Painless / Hold On / Messenger / Lost In Translation / Ignited / Meltdown / Out Of Nowhere / Wasteland

Album Rating: 7/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Hold On

Kinesis 4 – ‘Dreams Of Rainbows’

posted 6 Sep 2017, 13:23 by Paul Woodward


(OSH Records)

Review by Woody

Independent British rockers Kinesis 4 are led by principal songwriter Opkar Hans. Their new album Dreams of Rainbows has a lot of influences and styles on show including classic rock and prog. The most overwhelming and obvious flavour of the album though is Psychedelic rock and as the album has a real throwback tone to it the most obvious comparison to me is The Doors. The album has a whole really harks back to that ‘hippy’ rock style of the late sixties and early seventies.

There are a lot of Prog style song structures and instrumental flows to the songs but it is always very trippy and psychedelic. There are quite a few different uncommon musical instruments thrown into the mix which add a really multi-cultural feel to many of the songs. One of the most noticeable songs to do this is ‘T-Shirt’ which has a strong Caribbean vibe to it which is accentuated even more so by the use of steel drums.

Hans’s song writing compositions have a strong whimsical and ethereal tone to them, it’s very mellow and laid back – all very peace and love inducing! I can appreciate Dreams of Rainbows for what it is but it never really gets under my skin as it doesn’t really appeal to my own personal music tastes. Looking at it from an objective outside stand point though I can definitely see it appealing greatly to fans of retro rock especially those who like their psychedelic rock and desire something to easily chill out with and be taken somewhere else to.

The aforementioned ‘T-Shirt’ is one of the stand out tracks with its upbeat and funky flow. It’s a very happy go lucky song which incorporates steel drums and a horn section as well as some very enjoyable melodic vocal harmonies. There are a couple of instrumentals which book end the album ‘Rock U Stupid’ which is very trippy prog and ‘Summer Morning’ which is very chilled and evocative. ‘The Train’ is probably the hardest rocking track with its driving riff and Hammond organ which sees Hans showcase his classic rock song writing.

As a whole though the ethereal and trippy tracks like ‘Taking Our Time’, ‘Springtime’ and ‘I Believe’ are the most indicative of Hans’s song writing style and the overall sound of the album. For an independent release, the production is pretty good too, modern computer tools make it far easier for indie bands to make professional sounding albums but you’ll still be surprised how crappy some are still done. Hans might not be the strongest or powerful vocalist but his voice suits the tone of his songs and accentuates the ‘far out man’ attitude of most of his compositions.

If you like your retro rock and like your prog on the extra tippy side of the moon then Kinesis 4 are definitely worth your time checking out!

Track Listing: Rock U Stupid / Taking Our Time / The Train / T-Shirt / Springtime / Dreams of Rainbows / I Believe / Taxi / Summer Morning

Album Rating: 6/10

Woody’s Essential Track: T-Shirt

Martine McCutcheon – ‘Lost and Found’

posted 29 Aug 2017, 11:59 by Paul Woodward


(BMG)

Review by Woody

Martine McCutcheon’s new album Lost and Found is essentially a pop rock record, with all that implies, commercial, memorable and addictive. For me though this album as a whole showcases a lot of soft rock touches, obviously this is accentuated by the guitar hooks but even more noticeably by the keyboard’s and synths. The Synth riff on ‘Any Sign of Life’ could have been lifted from Vega’s ‘Kiss of Life’ album easily, there’s a touch of James Martin on that one! There’s some slight modern country flourishes on some songs too.

This is a very mature collection of songs, it’s still pop orientated but it’s not throwaway or frivolous as that tag tends to make people think. In fact, this is a very deep and emotional album, which really sees McCutcheon laying herself bare and vulnerable both vocally and lyrically. I’m always drawn to songs I can connect to or feel emotionally satisfied by and McCutcheon has done that here, the depth and personal nature of most these songs has made it very easy to relate and connect with them.

McCutcheon’s vocals throughout are exemplary, she has a soft and warm vocal that is extremely melodious and soothing. She lets her vocals soar as and when a song needs, always to dramatic effective that boosts the impact of a song on the listener. But this album isn’t about warbling (something I detest) it’s all about emotion and beautiful vocal melodies and we hear a good range of what McCutcheon can do vocally throughout the album.

As I previously stated it is a very emotional album and McCutcheon’s vocal delivery accentuates that, vulnerable, heart breaking at times and always no matter what song always powerfully emotive. She has such a beautiful voice it’s so easy to fall in love with her songs and I found myself connecting with her music instantly.

McCutcheon’s husband and co-writer Jack McManus has a strong background in music and song writing, so the heavy use of orchestration is no surprise. On Lost and Found these frequent string orchestration sections add a stunning amount of power to the songs adding dramatic effect and increasing emotional impact. It really adds to the luscious nature of these melodic soundscapes that back McCutcheon’s emotive vocals.

Album opener ‘Say I’m Not Alone’ is a radio friendly pop rocker with an awesome uplifting chorus with some delightful luscious guitar and keyboard licks. ‘Maybe I Should Run’ is very emotional with a powerfully emotive heart-breaking chorus. The power of the song is accentuated by the guitars and has an evocative string section. ‘Paradise’ is dark and moody and an emotion dripping mid-tempo song which also contains a beautiful string section.

‘Any Sign Of Life’ is a melodic rocker – I’m sure many genre bands would sell their soul for a track like this. Totally addictive with an insane sing along chorus that will get stuck in your head forever! ‘Stay With Me’ is a duet with McManus and his voice seems familiar to me, especially on the high notes – think it reminds of the guy from Lawson – don’t quote me on that though! It’s a beautiful and emotive song with an enrapturing chorus. ‘What You Do To Me’ has a beautiful vocal melody alongside an emotive guitar lick and great atmospheric keyboards.

I really wish I didn’t relate to ‘Cried A Little’ but I do, it’s already a frim favourite on the 3am playlist! It’s an absolutely heart wrenching ballad that is at the same time stunningly beautiful. There’s a touch of anger and fuck you attitude to ‘Archive’ it’s dark toned and has a real punch with a great guitar hook and unrelenting chorus. McCutcheon’s cover of Police classic ‘Every Breath You Take’ is a bare bones piano version and it’s very atmospheric and really highlights how beautiful her vocals are. Album closer ‘Rebellion’ is beautiful with an infectious guitar lick and a slight folk touch which makes me think of The Corrs.

Lost and Found is a strong contender for album of the year for me and if it doesn’t attain that title, then it will definitely be one of my most listened to albums of the year. As it’s such a deep and emotional album this gives it longevity so I know these songs will stay with me and I will continue to play the album frequently as time goes by. An absolutely fantastic album and I really hope there is more to come from Martine!

Track Listing: Say I’m Not Alone / Maybe I Should Run / Paradise / Any Sign Of Life / Stay With Me / What You Do To Me / Cried A Little / Archive / Every Breath You Take / Rebellion

Album Rating: 10/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Cried A Little

Atlas – ‘World In Motion’ EP

posted 28 Aug 2017, 11:48 by Paul Woodward


(Independent)

Review by Woody

I have to say I’m mightily impressed with the debut EP World In Motion from new and upcoming English AOR act Atlas. There’s a super slick production on these songs which really makes Atlas sound like seasoned pro’s as well as obviously making these ultra-smooth soundscapes really make an impact. Obviously as most AOR fans would agree, a slick and smooth production is essential for making songs of this genre really hit home.

Atlas blend old school AOR along the lines of Toto and Journey with prog much like genre crossing favourites Asia and Yes, who to me make the most obvious comparable bands. I feel fans of Asia in particular will be enamoured with Atlas and I’m confident they’ll be impressed. There is a strong pure AOR feel to the songs especially early AOR, it gives the band an edge of commerciality and is obviously accentuated by all of Thorley’s lush and expansive keyboards. The prog element is most noticeable in the song structures and how the songs have an epic and grandiose atmosphere.

It’s quite surprising that a bunch of twenty somethings have such a good hold and understanding on a musical sound which hasn’t been popular for such a long time. But these guys obviously know their Journey from their Asia and are obviously influenced by very early AOR (1978-1984). Young people getting into melodic rock isn’t surprising as it is by rule of thumb radio friendly and commercial albeit unpopular in the world of rock’s industry and media these days. That said though something so genre specific as Atlas have created is that one step into the unusual, but ultimately gratifying for fans as it means there is new and upcoming musicians within the field.

Led by Keyboardist James Thorley it is no surprise that the album is full of lush keyboard soundscapes and intricate keyboard licks and hooks. This is counterbalanced with a driven guitar punch from guitarists Howie Little and John Moss so the songs retain a rock impact and the songs aren’t softened too much from Thorley’s very beautiful and encompassing atmospheric keyboards. The guitar licks and riffs are impressive, although these songs are primarily keyboard driven, they add a harder edge an increase the impact of the songs.

Vocalist Craig Wells provides soaring vocals which at times puts me in mind of fellow British AOR singer Tony Mills, which not only makes me think of SHY but also the now defunct Serpentine which featured guest vocals from Mills. In fact, the more I think about it Atlas do have a lot in common musically with the Serp’s.

World In Motion provides us with a beautiful batch of endearing old school AOR – but my one quibble would be the lack of an obvious radio friendly chorus which I feel will stop the band exploding just yet. I have a really good feeling about these guys and suspect that elusive ‘hit’ is been prepared as I write this, based on this impressive display of musicianship and song writing I have very high expectations for the follow up release from these youngsters.

Track Listing: Change Of Heart / Alexandria / Cross The Line / Lost In The Moment

EP Rating: 8/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Cross The Line

Crimson Star – ‘Bay View’ EP

posted 22 Aug 2017, 15:24 by Paul Woodward


(Independent)

Review by Woody

Brummie hard rock trio Crimson Star consist of James Shaw (Vocals/Guitar), Ross Edgington (Drums) and Roger Ash (Bass) and Bay View is their second EP release. For a relatively new band these guys come across like hardened professionals with a defined sound and top-notch production on this EP. Crimson Star have a strong stoner edge to their alternative driven hard rock and will definitely appeal to fans of Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss and Soundgarden.

I really like how they mix deep beefy guitar riffs and lighter higher pitched guitar licks. I found that the beefy guitars enhance the stoner edge and the higher licks accentuate the alternative edge to the songs. Shaw has a deep vocal which at times reminds me of Creed frontman Scott Stapp, but Shaw’s approach and style has more in common with Chris Cornell of Soundgarden.

The five tracks are all impressive and diverse enough to maintain your attention throughout. ‘The Pragmatist’ has a great solo, very alt rock and it blends effectively with the stoner driven deep guitar riff. The most unusual track is probably ‘Euthanise Me’ which has a low-slung guitar riff, which matches the punch of the chorus but the verses have an almost lounge singer type avant garde feel to them. It may sound odd, but Crimson Star make it work! The easiest song to get into for me is actually the EP closer ‘Gimme Some’ which has a driven guitar riff from the offset that hooked me instantly.

It’s a bit dark and doomy and if you like moody grunge influenced hard rock this EP will definitely get under your skin. Crimson Star sound really promising and should make waves in the alternative rock scene, I would say they’re well worth a look live too as they have a sound which should come across with a gut punch in the flesh.

Bay View will be released on 23rd October 2017.

Track Listing: The Pragmatist / La Prom / Once / Euthanise Me / Gimme Some

EP Rating: 7/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Gimme Some

www.crimsonstarrocks.com

Joe Matera – ‘Heart of Stone’ EP

posted 18 Aug 2017, 13:06 by Paul Woodward


(RVP Records)

Review by Woody

Heart of Stone is the latest EP from Australian musician Joe Matera. It shows a mix of influences and styles, blending classic rock, sixties pop rock and even has a slight psychedelic edge. I found the production a little light, therefore giving the songs a rawer sound and given the flavour of Matera’s songs it sits in very well with the production style of the sixties / early seventies and enhancing that edge that I hear to his music. So, the production does give this EP a real retro vibe, which I’m sure will appeal to many old school rockers!

Matera doesn’t come across as a very powerful vocalist, his style suits the flow of his songs perfectly but he’s not a traditional rock powerhouse or at least that’s not showcased on this EP. There are three acoustic live tracks included and I was a little stunned at how good Matera is vocally live, I actually thought his voice on these songs was far stronger than the studio tracks, which is very unusual. Obviously with studio recordings it’s easier to achieve perfection from repeated performances and other studio trickery and of course live performances can and will feature imperfections.

The lead track ‘Heart Of Stone’ is very retro, melodic with fuzzy guitars and has a slight psychedelic tone to the vocals. This song has a strong early rock sound, which hints at both the sixties and early seventies era. The acoustic version of this song which follows is even more retro, as I felt the fuzzy guitars on the electric version modernised the song slightly.

Instrumental ‘Live To Rock’ has an early classic rock feel, it has a catchy guitar hook and a good groove with some really pleasing melodic soloing. Obviously as an instrumental this gives Matera opportunity to showcase his guitar skills.

‘Shining Star’, ‘Tell me Why’ and ‘Louder Than Words’ are all live acoustic recordings and to be honest the highlight of the EP to me. Matera comes across stronger as a vocalist on these tracks and I found these songs really memorable and I enjoyed the mild Ricky Warwick touches I felt especially on ‘Louder Than Words’. If you like acoustic performances I would definitely recommend these tracks to you.

I believe ‘Fallen Angel’ and ‘Feel Your Love’ have been released before and have been tagged onto the end of this very long EP at nine tracks (if you include the opening intro). Both songs have a similar feel – very melodic but retro rockers with fuzzy guitars, understated vocals and most importantly memorable choruses.

The acoustic / electric / live performances on this EP show different sides to Matera and provide a mixed bag of his style of rock to enjoy. I wasn’t blown away by Heart Of Stone but I do enjoy it and appreciate Matera’s song writing. I know the retro touches will really appeal to some and is well worth any old school rock connoisseur giving some time too!

Track Listing: Intro / Heart Of Stone / Heart Of Stone (acoustic) / Live To Rock / Shining Star (Live) / Tell Me Why (Live) / Louder Than Words (Live) / Fallen Angel / Feel Your Love

Album Rating: 7/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Louder Than Words (Live)

Cellar Darling – ‘This Is The Sound’

posted 1 Aug 2017, 09:07 by Paul Woodward


(Nuclear Blast)

Review By Woody

If there is one thing that life has taught me it is to never judge a book by its cover and that’s true of Cellar Darling. The name itself is an oxymoron and would imply the music is very dark toned, which it isn’t in the slightest, it is very free spirited, light and uplifting. At face value Cellar Darling are symphonic metal, but there is way more to this band’s song writing and music than that term would elucidate. There are very strong Celtic and folk tones and themes throughout, but they manage to present these very niche and uniquely appealing sounds into a very commercial and extremely accessible way.

Hurdy Gurdy wielding vocalist Anna Murphy has a very smooth and beautifully angelic voice and she has such an amazing vocal range it’s hard not to instantly fall in love with the free-spirited nature of her vocal style. On top of her wonderfully ethereal and emotive vocals the album is also littered abundantly with great backing vocals and soaring vocal harmonies.

Murphy’s Hurdy Gurdy is very influential on the tone and flow of all the songs and their unique brand of symphonic metal. This (very) old school instrument adds an extremely ethereal feel to the music and while enhancing the Celtic tones it never becomes inaccessible and its kudos to Murphy’s playing and song writing to make this instrument not only enjoyable but deeply effective in capturing a listener’s attention.

Musically Cellar Darling are not excessively heavy but have a good strong metallic flavour which will push them towards fans of commercial symphonic metal like Within Temptation and Delain. That said though I truly believe this album will have a far wider appeal than the confines of the genre’s fanbase. Symphonic metal fans in particular will be struck by the strength and depth of this album and singing its praises with adoration. 

Favourites of mine so far include the striking and infectious ‘Hullabaloo’, the commercial metal of ‘The Hermit’ and the very emotional ‘Under The Oak Tree’.

‘This Is The Sound’ is an extremely atmospheric, emotive and beautiful album. The songs wrap themselves around you easily and draw you into their stories and beautiful musical landscapes. Cellar Darling are definitely a band that will surprise and captivate music fans regardless of your personal tastes. Who would have thought the Hurdy Gurdy could be so METAL!

Track Listing: Avalanche / Black Moon / Challenge / Hullabaloo / Six Days / The Hermit / Water / Fire Wind Earth / Rebels / Under The Oak Tree / High Above These Crowns / Star Crusher / Hedonia / Redemption

Album Rating: 8/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Hullabaloo

Mark Slaughter – ‘Halfway There’

posted 1 Aug 2017, 08:58 by Paul Woodward


(EMP)

Review by Woody

I was really disappointed and underwhelmed by Mark Slaughters previous and debut solo album ‘Reflections In The Rear View Mirror’. I think a lot of that had to do with my own very high expectations as the album garnered plaudits everywhere I looked upon its release. I’m a big fan of Slaughter even though I know many find them an acquired taste and their appearance at HRH AOR Festival recently was heartbreakingly awful. When I was asked to review this album, I did feel apprehensive and had real doubts on the quality of what I was about to hear.

I was taken totally by surprise after my initial spin, I loved it, so the repeat listens began feverishly. I think my low expectations left me wide open to the sucker punch that Slaughter’s song writing delivered instantly and relentlessly. It really harks back to the glory days of Slaughter in so many ways but he never goes over old ground it’s fresh and exciting with that Slaughter familiarity. He has without doubt given old school Slaughter fans an album that they crave, it’s a fan pleaser for sure, especially for those fans who want that old flavour.

There is a very varied mix of styles, tempo’s and tones which keeps the album fresh and innovative throughout. You have strong hard rock songs with distinctive instant melodies, metallic downbeat and driven numbers as well as emotional ballads.

With this album as was the case with its predecessor Mark Slaughter takes control of everything from the production, to the performance of all instruments and of course the song writing. He really has shone with his song writing and lyrics and really has delivered some of his best work on this album, vocally he is in top form and very impressive and his multi instrumental talents really show what a real talent he is.

‘Halfway There’ is the power ballad the eighties forgot, it could easily have been the emotional set piece in any film released in the late eighties or early nineties, the stunning chorus on ‘Turn It’, the upbeat rocker ‘Hey You’ and the evocative and potent ‘Forevermore’ are all songs which need your ears wrapped around them!

This is a killer album from a genre legend and any self-respecting melodic hard rock fan needs to check it out and then obviously splash their cash on what I’m sure will be one of the most popular and enduring albums of 2017!

Track listing: Hey You / Devoted / Supernatural / Halfway There / Forevermore / Conspiracy / Reckless / Disposable / Turn It / Not Here

Album Rating: 9/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Forevermore

Night Demon – ‘Darkness Remains’

posted 1 Aug 2017, 08:50 by Paul Woodward


(Nuclear Blast)

Review by Woody

‘Darkness Remains’ is the second album from Californian classic metal trio Night Demon. Now to say these guys are retro sounding NWOBHM is such an understatement it is explosively funny! I think Night Demon might like and be influenced a tad by Iron Maiden, just a wee bit. After I played this album through it was plainly clear to me not only do Night Demon like Iron Maiden they want to be Iron Maiden, seriously on so many levels – including the fact that during live shows their skeletal mascot ‘Rocky’ makes appearances, sound familiar?

Obviously Maiden have evolved and played with their sound over the decades, but Night Demon emulate their hero’s early years most notably the debut and ‘Killers’. This album as a whole is generally very energetic and punk tinged with strong melodic moments and guitar licks, with solo’s pumping out of every orifice.

You shouldn’t look to Night Demon for originality but if you’re looking for some quality old school Maiden then these guys will definitely tickle your fancy in all the right ways. Normally when a band’s sound is so close to their influences they can feel like a watered-down version or a second-rate tribute act but I’ll give Night Demon their due they craft and play genuinely exciting and enjoyable songs even if they are walking down a well-worn path. The strong melodic flavour they heap into the mix not only gives them a commercial edge but also makes them more appetising to my own personal tastes.

All the elements that make Iron Maiden so popular are peppered liberally throughout Night Demon’s song writing. Those energetic guitar riffs and fast paced solo licks. Obviously ‘Darkness Remains’ has an early NWOBHM vibe but with its modern-day production the retro sound of Night Demon doesn’t feel dated and it keeps the songs sounding quite fresh.

Although there are times I feel like Steve Harris might be writing a letter of copyright infringement given the similarity in song writing and flavour of the music.

It’s a no holds barred album but the radio friendly nature ‘Black Widow’ makes it an obvious choice for me to highlight with it’s amazing guitar play, addictive chorus and energy.

If you’re into classic metal and NWOBHM in particular, if you can look past the obvious Iron Maiden tribute aspect to their songs you will find this album and Night Demon a real enjoyable pleasure.

Track Listing: Welcome to the Night / Hallowed Ground / Maiden Hell / Stranger in the Room / Life on the Run / Dawn Rider / Black Widow / On Your Own / Flight of the Manticore / Darkness Remains

Album Rating: 7/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Black Widow

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