New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Demon were known for their shocking and elaborate performances (quite unique, considering the no-fuss, stripped-down philosophy characteristic of the movement), but never sounded as extreme as their name might suggest. Instead, they forged a mainstream hard rock/metal style, which, though it didn't stand out from the pack, has managed to keep them in business for several decades.
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 found Demon midway through 1980. 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 presently 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, 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 (side 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.
But with each passing album and tour, Demon seemed to place less emphasis on writing quality music than they did on filling their performances with outrageous theatrics and special effects, with Hill in particular preoccupying himself with adopting a sinister alter ego and taking to jumping out of a coffin on-stage. Perhaps realizing that the group was losing its way, Carrere decided to cash in their chips before the arrival of 1983's terribly overwrought The Plague, which found Demon exploring ambitious progressive rock territory and signaled the start of their decline. New members John Waterhouse (guitar), Gavin Sutherland (bass), and Steven Watts (keyboards) took part in the sessions for fourth album British Standard Approved, but even before its release, the group suffered a major setback when founding member Mal Spooner -- long suffering from numerous health problems -- succumbed to pneumonia and passed away in December 1984.
Singer Dave Hill vowed to carry on in his honor, but most fans agree that things have never been quite same without Spooner. Released in 1985, Heart of Our Time seemed to confirm this and was but the first in a string of increasingly overlooked LPs to emerge over the next decade. Guitarist Steve Brookes and bassist Nick Bushell (both of them former members of punk heroes Discharge, oddly enough) came aboard before 1989's Taking the World by Storm, which was in turn followed by 1990's live One Helluva Night and 1991's Anthology. 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 his cohorts -- 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. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi