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Demon - The Unexpected Guest

On July 2, 1982 "Demon" released their 2nd album "The Unexpected Guest".

For those who never heard of the band, "Demon" formed in England in 1979, as a heavy metal band, by vocalist Dave Hill and guitarist Mal Spooner previously from the glam rock band "Iron Cross". The two recruited former "Hunter" members Les Hunt (lead guitar), Chris Ellis (bass), and John Wright (drums). Their debut album, "Night of the Demon", was released in 1981 showing a blend of old school hard rock, blues rock, and NWOBHM, creating a sound more reminiscent of American hard rock / AOR band, than British, with melodic, commercial-sounding. They quickly became known for their shocking and elaborate occult-themed performances, drenching their bodies in paint and pentagrams, and emerging out of coffins on stage. These elements of shock-rock distinguish them from other bands in the NWOBHM scene. A glance at their debut album cover is enough to learn that this is maybe the first metal album to show such a macabre, ghastly image on its cover. But it wasn't only that, the music and lyrics were gloomy and dark.

Their second release, "The Unexpected Guest," stands out as a unique and influential album in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) era. Known for their distinctive blend of melodic hard rock and bluesy undertones, "Demon" carved a niche for themselves with this concept album that revolves around a séance gone wrong. This thematic journey into the darker aspects of the human mind gives the album a compelling narrative thread.

The album starts with a short instrumental Intro ("An Observation") and ends with the track "Outro", giving it a beginning and an end that fits a concept album. Just looking at the song titles one can understand that this album revolves around the concept of a bad séance experience (maybe influential on King Diamond's "A Dangerous Meeting" with "Merciful Fate"). The album explores themes of madness, possession, destiny, and the loss of reality, with tracks like "Don't Break the Circle," "The Spell," "Total Possession," "Sign of a Madman,", "A Strange Institution," "Victim of Fortune," "Beyond the Gates of Hell," "Deliver Us From Evil," painting vivid pictures of the supernatural and existential. The narrative warning about the dangers of the occult, rather than advocating for it, echoes the cautionary tales found in early "Black Sabbath" songs, lending a very human feel to the album.

Musically, "The Unexpected Guest" is dominated by the twin guitar sound of Mal Spooner and Les Hunt, and Dave Hill's distinctive, passionate raspy vocals. Hill’s voice, though not technically exceptional, is uniquely powerful and filled with raw emotion, making his delivery memorable and impactful. The production, managed by Mike Stone, captures the band's energetic essence while maintaining a polished and warm sound. The inclusion of keyboards adds a melodic and atmospheric dimension that sets the album apart from many of its contemporaries.

"Demon's" sound on this album draws heavily from 70s hard rock influences like "UFO", "Thin Lizzy" and early "Black Sabbath", with a distinctly American hard rock feel due to its melodic refrains. The album's big "hit" is "Don't Break the Circle", later covered by "Blind Guardian". This track is a highlight, featuring layered guitar melodies that build to a powerful crescendo. It encapsulates the melodic and atmospheric essence of the album. Other notable tracks from the album are: "The Spell" with its Haunting and repetitive, fitting well within the album's dark thematic framework, The energetic upbeat "Total Possession", "The Grand Illusion" - One of Demon's heaviest tracks, showcasing the band’s versatility and heavier side, "Have We Been Here Before?" - A more melodic track that deals with reincarnation, displaying key NWOBHM characteristics with an upbeat feel, "Strange Institution": - A dark semi-ballad with a bluesy solo, adding depth to the album's emotional range, and the catchy "Deliver Us From Evil".

"The Unexpected Guest" is a cohesive and compelling album that rewards repeated listens, revealing new details and nuances each time. For fans of NWOBHM and 70s heavy rock, this album is a must-listen. It captures the peak of "Demon's" creative output before they ventured into more experimental and less consistent territory. While the NWOBHM label initially helped "Demon" gain recognition, after this album, "Demon began" to experiment sound, moving towards more melodic and varied musical styles, even Progressive Rock. "The Unexpected Guest" remains a high point in "Demon's" career, showcasing their unique blend of hard rock and heavy metal. It's a timeless and influential work in the heavy metal genre. Its combination of dark lyrical themes, skilled musicianship, and memorable songs make it a standout album that continues to captivate listeners decades after its release.

For Listening: Spotify, Apple Music

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