Demon / Invincible Ignites, A Vibrant Testament To Timeless Rock Energy

I was obsessed with Demon in the early ’80s. The sinister overtones of the debut album, Night Of The Demon, and follow-up, The Unexpected Guest, brought a darkness which was never quite matched by the melodic style that has always surged through this band.

Demon – Invincible (Frontiers Music)

Release Date: 17 May 2024

Words: Paul Hutchings

Whilst you may have expected face-melting riffs, by the time The Plague was released in 1983, the band had moved even further away from the NWOBHM badge that had been pinned on them, with a keyboard-influenced progressive sound which was much cleverer than they were ever credited with. 

A deep dive into their catalogue provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in some of the band’s finest moments. There are endless songs that straddle the classic rock and progressive melodic barriers.  

Demon - Invincible album cover
Demon – Invincible – A testament to the band’s enduring appeal and innovation.

As they arrive at their 45th anniversary, a new studio album on Frontiers Music is a most pleasing surprise. Rich in melody but with a harder edge than was witnessed in 2016’s Cemetery Junction, Invincible sits neatly alongside other legendary bands such as Uriah Heep and Magnum as the best of the British old school. 

Contemporary in sound yet rooted in the band’s history, Invincible is an album to absorb and play repeatedly. 

One must wonder when our veteran bands will ever pack away their microphone stands. Such is the continuing quality of those who formed the soundtrack to our youth. It’s only the death of Tony Clarkin that has brought Magnum to a close, while Priest, Saxon, Heep, etc, have all released career-best records in recent times. 

You can now add Demon to the list for Invincible, which is a slab of the highest quality. 

It’s Karl Waye’s Lord-esque keyboards that pave the way. His burst of ’70s-style thick Hammond on Intro leads to some delicious harmonies as the band burst into the glorious, melody-rich blast of In My Blood. 

He may be another musician in his eighth decade, but founder member Dave Hill seems to be in the best form I have ever heard. He has lowered his level, but his vocals remain rich and soulful throughout. He plays to his strengths, with the band providing superb harmonies that support him. 

This is a Demon line-up that is linking the past with the present. Face The Master has early ’80s Demon written all over it. Underrated riffs of Dave Cotterill and Paul Hume, both with the band for over a decade each, add serious backbone, whilst there is a solidity about Neil Ogden’s drumming and the returning bass of Paul Fasker Johnson. 

Face The Master reminds you that, at times, Demon can still really cut loose. A throwback, perhaps, but still with one eye on current times. It’s glorious in every way. 

If you want rockers, then Demon delivers here in spades. Ghosts From The Past is huge, whilst the upbeat tempo of Beyond The Darkside shows Demon’s musicians at their most cohesive. 

Throw in the eerie feel of Hole In The Sky, and you have three magical pieces in a row. The latter has a neat Sabbath riff, ironic given the name of the song, I suppose, but more importantly, it once again highlights the creativity of the band. Hill’s writing has always caught my ear, but this is an epic reminiscent of the current-day era of Deep Purple. Its sweeping soundscapes, clever percussion, and thick riff all combine into one of the best tracks Demon has ever recorded.

Although there are 12 tracks on Invincible, there is nothing here that sounds like filler. Each track brings something different, be it the chunky riff and subtle layered synths on the anthemic Rise Up, with its delightful AOR chorus, the emotion-filled Break The Spell, the dynamism of penultimate song Breaking The Silence with the space rock elements, or the towering, dramatic title track with its addictive hook and the additional effects at the start which present images of armour-clad soldier marching to war. 

Invincible is possibly the best album that Demon has ever made. There, I said it. And for me, that is a huge statement, for I rate The Plague as one of the best progressive albums ever made. 

But Invincible is a masterpiece from start to finish. Its delicate melodies warm the chills, and even the final song, Forever Seventeen, with maybe Hill allowing himself a moment of indulgent reflection, feels right on this release. 

It’s an album that may yet garner some new fans, whilst those who have been with the band for many years will surely be delighted with the quality here. Their first album in eight years, one can only applaud a band who have shown strength amidst adversity from those early days when the band lost guitarist Mal Spooner so young. 

They may be in the twilight of their career, but one can once again only hope that there is more to come from this most underrated of all UK bands.

Demon – Invincible – Can be pre-ordered from here.

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