Demon - Unbroken

Spaced Out Music
Demon have been going on for countless years! They never really disbanded as per se, but deaths, tragedies and ever changing line-ups, that however released surprisingly consistent albums by the way, necessitated some periods of inactivity along their more than 30 yearlong semblance of a career.
The paradox, that while, being one of the better bands that came out of the NWOBHM, that released at least 3 VERY CLASSIC and seminal and some – I dunno – must be well more than a dozen now, overall albums, has afforded Demon the opportunity and one might even say luxury to go off and do whatever they wanted to do! No huge career to talk of, they’re a bit like Anvil only more hard rocking, instead of metallizin. Everyday people with normal day jobs that did release some pretty cool music in the 80s that steadfastly refuses to die.
Every time, a new Demon album, comes out, I’m always under the subconscious fear it, may well be their last. Dave Hill, “the father of time” is apparently looking quite ageless, or at least, I can’t remember him looking any different, ever since first seeing Demon live, about a decade ago (and I’ve seen them numerous times since then) but obviously, he ain’t getting younger (and that’s not me being a rampart ageist, heck, I’m getting older as well! But still look quite decent, at least!) and while the band can always keep being renewed around him, he’s been the only constant – the only “unbroken” link from that early “circle” that’s just going on and on... well compromised in membership – but always, unbroken in scope.
To me – Dave (and excuse me for calling him by his first name) is among the greatest songwriters of hard rock/heavy metal. Be it anthemic rock tunes, or soul wrenching songs condemning social wrongs, he’s done it, a hundred times or more over the years, no matter who his writing partner was at which every time… and they were numerous and very talented and some of them, sorely missed.
Every time I’ve watched Demon, I couldn’t help but be moved, sometimes even to tears, by the performances, some of the messages, of some of the songs and how down to earth and ego-devoid, Dave was. He reminded me of the late and sorely missed, Ronnie James Dio. Ok, he doesn’t quite have that voice, but still, for his range and I suppose, lack of musical training the man is phenomenal. He’s not trying to do stuff, he’s incapable for, so he easily avoids embarrassment, and the color of his voice, is just, by sheer chance – instantly likable.
In all my 22 years as a music fan, I’ve heard some fantastic singers, with great technique, that were very much spot on – which obviously plays an important role, in making a tune work well, but then, on the other hand their “voices” - the color of their voices – wasn’t best suited, to whatever they were singing! Dave was born, to sing rock, or if he wasn’t – well at least he did and thank God for that, or we’d be missing one of the better performers of the genre!
At any rate, concerning “Unbroken” now...
These are indeed trying times, with the worldwide economy slowly heading towards nadir – heck with the world even maybe on the brink of a new WW and the trend is to see, cheaper, crappier productions and final products, for prices similar to the “earlier” ones.
However Demon, seem to be pulling all stops on this new album! Has anyone won the lottery or something?! “Unbroken” comes as a very nice, (if not slightly oversized – which can be a problem if you have a fixed storage space for CDs) super thick digi-book, with a very nice 12 page booklet. Certainly it’s the best packaged Demon album, ever! Even the simple cover, with some chains going around is “smart” and almost iconic! Well done on that level!
The music, that this very nice package carries – which is the important bit – is probably as good as ever! Demon’s – well “The devil, you’ve always known” them to be. Slightly bombastic, artistic, mostly mid tempo, but on occasion slower or faster, depending on the mood of each one song, heavy rock/metal with strong vocals and as usual, some very intelligent and socially conscious lyrics, when the band is not exploring, more poignant rock n roll, or abstract themes.
“Prey” preceded, by a 1 minute intro that bears the same name too, is a rather up tempo and energetic opener, more or less, about well warriors on conquests in ancient times, or something, mercenaries really, which isn’t something Hill, has done a lot in the past, but I guess is done – you know as a cliché metal theme. Metaphorically and due to its euphoric, uplifting chorus, one might also take it, as an invitation to take chances and going for it!
“Shine a Light” is a song about waking up and feeling good, one could take “waking up” both literally, as if, waking up and putting on the radio and getting back to life and re-energizing oneself, or metaphorically as well as in “waking up” and deciding it’s a time for changes for breaking away from those things that hold you down. Again it’s a quite positive tune and the music reflects that as well.
The title track “Unbroken” is pretty much a reference to the bands longevity and unbroken spirit and makes a few references to one of the bands more successful tunes, namely “Don’t Break the Circle”. All in all it’s a bit different “animal” but the chorus really, “lifts it”. “...The circle of life... an endless line....” what seems as a bit of a poetic guff, is so poignant and so deeply philosophical…
The quite “metallic-ally titled” “Wings of Steel” is a keyboard laden tune, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as DH, wrote it with the keyboard player... it simply has one of the most breathtaking choruses on the entire album oh and a helluva solo, for good measure! Lyrically, it’s not about anything in particular, it’s just a collage of beautiful “mental” images, although with such a title, I initially thought, damn, they wrote a song, about aviation and tourism! (hahaha sorry for taking the piss here!)
“Fill Your Head With Rock” is an anthem, type of song, about Sweden Rock Festival, that the band has played on a number of occasions, so this is like a snapshot, a collage of the collective band memories from these performances! Quite nice! (Seen them twice ‘up there too)
“Take Me to Your Leader” is a bit of another “cliché” line, made into a song. It’s spacey but rocking too, with a big thick, multi-tracked vocal in the chorus that sticks out! It’s a bit about UFOs, but well, there’s a nicely ambiguous lyric there that could be differently interpreted
“Private Lives” is another song that Dave has written with Paul Farrington, they keyboard player, while on most of the rest he shares the writing credits with the drummer Neil Ogden, which is kinda, unusual, (as most of the times it’s guitarists that take the lion’s share of writing credits) at any rate it’s a song, about the whole instant celebrity cult, the whole paparazzi thing, were someone goes from zero to hero, in zero minutes then back to nothing, just as fast, all for a fee, while those “people” just get “squeezed” like lemons and then tossed away. It has a quirky nice rhythm to it, this one, that makes it quite enjoyable actually!
“We Can Make It, (If We All Try)” is a very melodic and rhythmical track, a most excellent tune, with a very positive message of self-empowerment and teamwork/play. There’s a very beautiful lyric there, one that I would not mind using/applying in everyday life either... “...Sometime’s we think that life’s unfair, never get the breaks and no-one cares, but don’t you let it get you down, stand upon that mountain take a look around...”
“...Don’t Ever Walk Away, when you think It Right, Don’t Ever Walk Away, Stay here & fight”! Beautiful, just beautiful...
“What About The Night” is drenched in luscious keys and yeah, you may have guessed, who whore this, with whom. Apparently it’s a bit of a “theatrical” demon tune, inspired by those old Hammer horror films.... about Dracula, draining scantily clad virgins (?!) of their blood etc… a good ole bit of deliciously devilish fun, just one track before the end!
Finally “I Still Believe” is a lighters and a hands in the air, anthem, very melodic and with a very simple lyric that’s very close to the heart of it all and what it’s all about at least for me.
I need to quote the whole song actually, something, that I have never EVER done before in a review, but, heck I think it summarizes how I feel about rock n’ roll in no more than some 20 lines and it’s solo is OUT OF THIS WORLD too!
“Ever Stopped to wonder/What It's all about?/In a world that’s changing everyday/We search for something, something to hold onto/A Simple Faith Along the Way
Chorus: (I still believe x2/That Rock will rule the world/In a time and a place of its own) x2
There is a reason/Why I feel This Way/There’s nowhere else I’d rather be/It’s my religion, this is my life/All the music and the songs
As the feeling grows and the world it keeps turning, here’s to Rock n’ Roll and a world that keeps on turning… Chorus
… Bliss!
This is easily Demon’s best work, since 92’s “Blow-Out” and IMNHO, one of the better DEMON albums in the entire and long career of the band! It might only have 10 songs, with not real, highs and lows – but it’s all GOOD and it all ROCKS! I went out of my way to say of how deep a lyricist Dave Hill has always been and he somewhat made a “Liar” out of me, on this account, but during these bleak, dark and trying times we’re going through, a slightly more optimistic album to rock the troubles away, may be what the good doctor would have ordered, I guess!
So Long Life to Dave and his company of rocking men and may they continue to rock us, for a long time to come!