NIGHT DEMON, HAUNT, and BEWITCHER
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While standard bearers of the NWOBHM movement and responsible for ’83’s seminal Court In the Act and ’87’s Suspended Sentence, with Cruel Magic (2018) Satan make it abundantly clear that they are not interested in simply capitalizing on past glories. Comprised of 10 tracks of searing metal, it is blatantly and profoundly the work of the Newcastle upon Tyne natives at their very best, infusing their signature sound with a more raw, wild and spontaneous vibe than they showcased on 2015’s mighty Atom By Atom, in the process displaying more passion and energy than slews of bands half their age.
Having reunited in 2012 and returned to touring duty, Satan – comprised of six-stringers Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey, bassist Graeme English, drummer Sean Taylor and vocalist Brian Ross – once more proved their collective mettle with 2013’s Life Sentence and follow-up Atom By Atom, both records critically acclaimed and maintaining the high standards of their earlier releases. “I’m particularly proud of what we did with Atom By Atom, the progression we made from Life Sentence” says Tippins, who asserts that they knew they had penned the best song of their career with “The Fall Of Persephone”, while the title track and the album’s powerful cover art meditate on living through the deterioration of a loved one through dementia.
“I think we all know how it feels to lose someone close, but to witness a person you know disappearing ‘head first’, losing their knowledge, memories, everything that makes them the person they are, that is something else.” With such a powerful collection in their hands the band were unsurprisingly eager to take it on the road, and they once again had successful tours and festival runs in Europe, North America and South America, culminating with a slot opening for Pentagram in Helsinki, which Tippins counts as a true honor.
Soon enough, the itch to be making new music prickled at the members, workaholic Tippins in fact recommencing writing almost as soon as they completed Atom By Atom, and they began to work on the material that would ultimately comprise Cruel Magic. “We don’t record a ton of material then pick out ten songs for the record. We vet it as we go until we can’t imagine it being any better, and it’s not about just adding to the pile. We quite often shorten or cut out whole sections if they aren’t earning their keep, so to speak.”
Content-wise, they did not enter into the process with a definitive plan for the album, however, from the start the members knew how they wanted to record it and the overall vibe they wanted to capture. This was in a large part informed by the band increasingly finding themselves turned off by overly polished modern metal records. “I’ve arrived at a point where as a music consumer I’m no longer as impressed as I used to be by speed, technique, control, heaviness, tone, flawless production and excessive bottom end! These days any band can – and does – achieve all of that, and as a listener I feel like I’m being backed into a corner by five guys flexing their fucking biceps in my face. Everything seems to be a display of strength. Sound and fury signifying nothing.”
While such records are the typification of sterile performances and recording techniques, Satan are aware that Court In the Act exists at the polar opposite end of the spectrum, and is beloved over and above all other Satan releases despite – and perhaps even because – of its “chaotic production, at times shambolic performances, and the naivety of the bloody lyrics!” It was, therefore, something of a revelation to the guitarist when he sat down and played the recent vinyl reissue of that album, and rather than experiencing the inward cringing he has long associated with listening to their many ‘mistakes’, he found himself inspired by what was pumping from the speakers.
“If anything it seemed more interesting because of the fuck-ups and lack of production – drums and guitars played with reckless abandon, ambitious runs and fills that nearly worked but didn’t, first takes that were kept simply because we made it to the end of the song. There’s something intangible in there, an energy which is missing from those other qualities I mentioned. So, it got me thinking that whatever music we came up with for the next record, when it came to actually recording it we’d make a conscious effort to go for first takes, no matter what fuck-ups/jazz crimes had been committed.”
Exposure to the record makes the fact that they have placed passion first and foremost exuberantly clear, the energy of the performances tied to their unique style of songwriting doing all of the talking. “So here’s the news: You are going to hear mistakes on the new Satan album, some of them pretty clearly if you listen for them, but like us, I believe you’ll be too swept up in the excitement to care.”
Represented both lyrically and in the record’s artwork, Cruel Magic stands as “a personification of injustice in our world. Anyone who knows us knows we never sing about the Devil except in the most abstract terms. That said, we have no interest in light-hearted subject matter either. You will never hear the words ‘rock and roll’ in a Satan song, nor any references to sex, drugs, fast cars or motorcycles. But, generally bad things that happen in the world, real or imagined, and injustice in particular, has always been a big part of what drives us to write lyrics.”
Responsible for bringing the artwork for Life Sentence and Atom By Atom to life, artist Eliran Kantor – who has also collaborated with the likes of Iced Earth, Testament and Kataklysm – once again contributed Cruel Magic’s striking visuals, though in a manner that the members did not expect – to their delight. “The strangest thing happened – he ended up going in an entirely different direction to the lyric we’d written for the song “Cruel Magic”. So the title ‘concept’ of Cruel Magic has another meaning to the song, and once again he has come up with a disturbing and quite jarring piece of art. Maybe the most controversial cover we’ve ever had, but utterly brilliant.”
Tracking the album at First Avenue Studio in Newcastle upon Tyne, they further demonstrated their trust and rapport with past collaborators, recruiting engineer Dave Curle and Dario Mollo to handle the mix, letting them handle the technical side of things so the quintet could focus all of their energies on giving the best performances. Confident in the songs they had written and how they wanted them to sound made the process a very easy one, walking out of the studio with a record of which they are understandably proud, and will reign supreme in the speakers and headphones of metalheads the world over when it drops in Septmeber 2018. “I truly feel we’ve got it 100% right this time, the balance between considered content and reckless performance. We always break loose on stage so why not on record?”
Ventura, California is a picturesque beachside town along the Pacific coast. But beneath this tranquil veneer, something dangerous lurks in the shadows of the dark. Night Demon erupted onto the underground heavy metal scene with a self-titled four-song EP in 2012. This recording showcases a sound forged in a deep-seated passion for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal melded to distinctly American muscle and swagger, transcending musical trends and cutting across generational and genre-dividing lines.
A street-level buzz soon emerged, as listeners around the globe were captivated by this exciting, fresh take on a revered sound. Night Demon’s momentum accelerated in 2014, with the band landing support slots on Diamond Head and Raven tours of the USA, and launching the first of many DIY van tours across Europe that summer. This European jaunt strung together several festival appearances over a six-week period, with the routing in-between filled by gigs in every city, town and hole-in-the-wall village they could find. It became the blueprint for the band’s subsequent trips to Europe in 2014 and beyond. The net result was that, both at home and abroad, Night Demon earned a reputation as an incendiary, must-see live act with a tireless work ethic.
The next milestone in Night Demon’s career arc was the release of their first full-length album in January 2015 via Century Media in the USA and SPV/Steamhammer in Europe. Entitled Curse of the Damned, the record refined the band’s trademark sound as exhibited on the Night Demon EP. It also inspired fanatical devotion amongst the heavy metal faithful, garnering widespread critical acclaim and being voted the #1 album of 2015 by listeners of WCJU’s Metal on Metal radio show in Cleveland, Ohio. To promote the record, Night Demon hit the killing road for the better part of two years, crisscrossing the United States multiple times both as part of package tours (such as the Carcass/Crowbar/Ghoul trek in summer 2016) and on their own.
With each successive tour, Night Demon’s live show incorporated additional production elements, including innovative lighting and visual effects and the nightly onstage appearance of the band’s black-cloaked skeletal mascot, Rocky, to haunt, goad and tempt concertgoers into drinking from the chalice. Reaping the rewards of their relentless touring of the European market, Night Demon scored a high-profile appearance on the main stage at Germany’s Bang Your Head!!! festival in July 2016. Fully committed to veering off the beaten path to bring their heavy metal heat to more people in more places, the band embarked on a pair of tours of Mexico and, in early 2017, a run of 20 dates in South America and Latin America, including ten shows in Brazil alone.
With their second full-length, aptly entitled Darkness Remains, the true defenders of the night are poised to bring their volatile stage show and fist-pumping, neck wrecking, Heavy Metal sound to audiences the world 'round. Darkness Remains delivers all the expected NWOBHM-inspired thrills and chills, but also sees members, Jarvis Leatherby (vocals/bass), Armand John Anthony (guitar), and Dusty Squires (drums), honing their songwriting chops.
Not only has the band’s overall sound matured, but the individual members have carved out their own niches, sharpened their attack, and even taken some chances along the way. Boasting a full, powerful, and clear production that retains a raw edginess, Darkness Remains sets the gold standard for how a traditional metal record should sound in 2017. For Night Demon, no stage is too small and no stage is too large. They will take them all by storm. Welcome to the blessed night …
Simply put, American heavy metal titans Haunt is the new face of traditional heavy metal & hard rock. Masterful despite their young years as a band, Haunt began as a solo project of Beastmaker frontman Trevor William Church and promptly self-released its debut EP, Luminous Eyes, during the summer of 2017. Not long after, the EP was picked up for physical release by Shadow Kingdom Records, and henceforth did Haunt begin their ascent…
With Luminous Eyes reaping widespread acclaim from both fans and critics alike, the stage was set for Haunt‘s inevitable debut album. Aptly titled Burst Into Flame, the band’s full-length debut was released during the summer of 2018 and promptly burned a whole new path for Haunt. Now expanded into a full working lineup, Church’s vision proved infinitely powerful and poignant: here, Haunt‘s blend of turn-of-the-’80s heavy metal with touches of ’70s hard rock positively exploded with electricity and excitement at every turn. And that electricity reached a fever pitch as the band hit the touring circuit thereafter, culminating with a rapturously received run on the Speed of the Wizard tour supporting High on Fire, Municipal Waste, and Toxic Holocaust.
Not ones to rest on their considerable laurels, Haunt returned less than a year after their debut album with an even-stronger second album, If Icarus Could Fly, also released by Shadow Kingdom. If Luminous Eyes was the definition of “rapturously received,” then If Icarus Could Fly exceeded even those lofty expectations, with this bolstered Haunt lineup – which also includes guitarist John Tucker, bassist Taylor Hollman, and drummer Daniel “Wolfy” Wilson – truly proving themselves as not just a great “new band,” but a GREAT BAND altogether.
Of course, tons more touring followed, with each new audience becoming immediate converts and the band humbly taking it in stride, delivering anthem after anthem every night with the power and poise of veterans. During that time, the Mosaic Vision EP continued that ever-upward & onward momentum, once again released by true-believers-since-the-beginning Shadow Kingdom.
However, if those preceding two records were the fine-tuning on an already enviously stacked machine, then the band's massively anticipated third album Mind Freeze (due out January 10, 2020 via Shadow Kingdom) is the glorious sound of new expeditions explored and conquests sealed. Here, many/most of the trademark Haunt dynamics are firmly in place – compact songcraft, immediately memorable hooks, impassioned playing, an understated emotional element that elevates everything above mere party fodder – but the band are finding yet more interesting twists to ’em. No more can one simply say that Haunt are but a modern iteration of NWOBHM or some-such.
On the righteous evidence of Mind Freeze, the band incorporate classic metal contours, of course, but also everything from ’70s synth to ’90s punk, with these moody-yet-molten anthems now evincing an almost mystical quality perfectly in line with Church’s always-poignant lyrics. This time around, themes include carrying the torch, adventure, stagnation, politics, love, and triumph. Likewise, Church has handed the lead-guitar torch to Tucker, who delivers one unbelievable solo after another here (Church still gets in a few – don’t worry!). As if it ever needed restating, read it here: Mind Freeze is the sound of a full-band effort, because Haunt is the very definition of a band – a gang of outlaws, in it to win it or go down trying.
But, like anything in the Haunt universe so far, Mind Freeze could be the next step onto something else – something grander, something greater, “something else”? – but they’re making history with each and every move. So, live in the present and witness the ice-cold perfection of Haunt‘s Mind Freeze!
Bewitcher, in conspiracy with Shadow Kingdom Records is pleased to announce the long-awaited follow-up to their self-titled debut album. The time has come to finally unveil the band’s sophomore effort, entitled Under The Witching Cross (2019).
The album was engineered at The Captain’s Quarters studio in Ventura, CA by Night Demon axeman Armand John Anthony with mix/master duties once again falling to Joel Grind. Their combined efforts give the production a sound not yet heard on a Bewitcher record; ominous and layered without sacrificing any of the viciousness of its predecessor.
With stunning cover art from the incomparable Polish painter Mariusz Lewandowski, Under The Witching Cross is a clear statement of the band’s expanding musical and artistic aspirations. Don’t be fooled however, the content within is pure Satanic Speed Metal savagery that Bewitcher delivers with deadly force.