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An often overlooked yet pivotal band in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, Demon emerged in the early 1980s and quickly became known for their shocking and elaborate occult-themed performances. The band's ghoulish image was contrasted by their sound, which adhered closer to traditional hard rock than the kinetic punk-metal of contemporaries like Venom and Motorhead. After the release of their first two studio albums, 1981's Night of the Demon and 1983's The Unexpected Guest, the band decided to take a more progressive approach. Demon disbanded in 1992 but vocalist Dave Hill formed a new iteration of the group in the early 2000s that has gone on to release a string of well-received albums like Better the Devil You Know! (2005) and Cemetery Junction (2016). Singer Dave Hill and guitarist Mal Spooner had already cut their teeth with various amateur acts in their native Staffordshire, England, by the time they decided to join forces and form Demon in 1979. With the assistance of guitarist Clive Cook, bassist Paul Riley, and drummer John Wright, they quickly secured a one-off single deal with independent Clay Records, resulting in the "Liar" 7" later that year. The disc sold surprisingly well, and Demon were soon snapped up by French label Carrere (then also the home of NWOBHM stars Saxon) and shipped right back into the studio to record a full album, with Cook and Riley making way for new lead guitarist Les Hunt and bassist Chris Ellis at this time. Released in July 1981, their debut, Night of the Demon, was loaded with darkly gothic heavy metal on the one hand (Aide A) and melodic hard rock on the other (Side B), drawing positive comparisons to Judas Priest and latter-day Rainbow. A noteworthy stylistic balancing act, the semi-conceptual LP shifted quite a few units, as did its very solid 1982 follow-up, The Unexpected Guest, which carried on in similar fashion while adding keyboard player Andy Wright to the mix. 1983's The Plague signaled a new, more progressive rock-oriented direction for the group, and subsequent outings Heart of Our Time (1985), Breakout (1987), and Taking the World by Storm (1988) followed suit, but the group suffered a major setback when founding member Mal Spooner succumbed to pneumonia and passed away in December 1984. Hill finally put the band on ice during the ‘90s and even released a solo album in 1994. But after compiling another best-of set in 1999, he decided to hire a new group of backup musicians, and a revamped Demon inaugurated the new millennium with their tenth studio album, 2001's Spaced Out Monkey. Hill and company -- guitarists Ray Walmsley and Karl Finney, keyboardist Paul "Fazza" Farrington, bassist Andy Dale, and drummer Neil Ogden -- issued Better the Devil You Know! in 2005. By the time their next album, Unbroken, arrived in the fall of 2012, Demon had been through some more personnel changes. Hill, Farrington, and Ogden remained, while David Cotterill and Paul Hume had signed on as guitarists, and Paul "Fasker" Johnson took over on bass. Demon marched on with yet another lineup when they released Cemetery Junction in October 2016; former Demon guitarist Ray Walmsley rejoined the band on bass, replacing Paul Johnson, while Karl Waye took over on keyboards from Paul Farrington. In 2018, the group toured the U.K. to celebrate the 35th anniversary of The Unexpected Guest.
© James Christopher Monger /TiVo


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