HRH Mag’s Rich Holmes witnessed one of the NWOBHM bills of the year light up a cold Sunday night on Tyneside…
Want proof of NWOBHM’s enduring appeal, its power to enthral generations of fans and its global reach? Then you should have been at Newcastle’s basement rock bar, Trillians, on Sunday. You should have witnessed a celebration of glorious, exhilarating heavy metal. You should have seen the chemistry between two bands who, despite being born decades (and thousands of miles) apart, are brothers in arms.
Mythra and Night Demon have shared stages across the world, and here they were, in the heart of the region which spawned so many NWOBHM bands, playing to a crowd of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters.
It was perhaps no surprise that Mythra’s shirts seemed to be de rigueur at this weekend show, given that the band are rooted in North East soil. They may not have had the commercial success of Saxon or Iron Maiden, but the band are rightly revered for their ’79 debut, The Death And Destiny EP, and since returning to the fray in 2015 have gifted us an incendiary opus in Still Burning.
Back on British shores after an appearance at Californian metalfest Frost And Fire, they once again showed the inventiveness and dexterity of their songcraft, as guitarists John Roach and Alex Perry weaved majestic melodies around Vince High’s heartfelt vocals.
Yes, Phil Davies’ titanic drumming threatened to drown out his bandmates during The Best Is Yet To Come but by UFO – surely one of the NWOBHM’s lost anthems – the knob twiddling had done its work and Mythra were on fire, giving both young upstarts and gnarly veterans alike a lesson in passionate, classic heavy metal.
No wonder they’ve been in such demand.
And it’s testimony to the influence of bands like Mythra, alongside their late ’70s brethren, that one of 2017’s hottest acts clearly has one foot in metal’s illustrious past, and is fueled by the adrenaline rush of Wiped Out, Court In The Act et al.
Night Demon may hail from Ventura, USA, they may have grown up near golden beaches rather than steel works and coal mines, but their sleek, vicious assault is pure British metal – albeit played with an urgency akin to a teenage Hetfield and co.
In the talented hands of Jarvis Leatherby, Armand John Anthony and Dusty Squires, songs like Screams In The Night, Maiden Hell and Full Speed Ahead sound unstoppable. Throw in an underground rock bar, full of metal die-hards and you had the recipe for one hell of a show. Even a temporary lull for some bass repairs didn’t derail Night Demon’s illustrious display: Leatherby’s heroic vocals and Anthony’s searing fretwork were a joy to behold throughout.
For the North East crowd, it was also heartwarming to hear their singer pay tribute to ‘local boys’ Raven – who’ve taken the trio under their wing – as well as Newcastle legends Satan. If those acknowledgements weren’t enough, Night Demon further honoured their heavy metal heroes with a sizzling, quickfire version of Diamond Head’s Lightning To The Nations.
How the metal community lost touch with such an important part of its heritage is anyone’s guess, but four decades after it first hit the streets, the NWOBHM movement has a renewed sense of momentum. And in one of the cities that gave birth to the scene, its flame was burning bright.