After a suitably pompous, keyboard-led intro that would have thr grandaddy of all keysmen, Jon Lord, raising an expensive glass of red in approbation, NWoBHM survivors Demon get right amongst it with tuneful rocker In My Blood. The first thing to note is that, thankfully, band vocalist and prime mover Dave Hill sounds as vital as ever, vocals dripping with that raggedy-edged majesty that has made him one of Brit rock’s best kept secrets for over forty years. It’s his sound, his tone, that gives this band their x-factor, so it’s a delight to find everything present and correct in this department.

He’s no slouch as a songwriter either and, here, surrounded by a talented pack of associates, that fact is underlined on more than one occasion. Face The Master is a classy piece of urgent, impressive hard rock, Hill augmented by strong backing vocals and some nice arrangements that recall, perhaps, the pomp rock glory days of the late seventies and bands like City Boy. Long term fans will absolutely lap up the melodic metal of Beyond The Darkside, a sparkling piece of Demon in excelsis, rammed to the gunwhales with proper vocal earworms and seriously impressive guitar contributions from Dave Cotterill and Paul Hume. This is seriously good stuff, easily the equal of anything being churned out by more ‘illustrious’ names, and it’s a real adrenaline rush to hear a band of this vintage producing material that leaves younger rivals floundering in it’s wake in terms of vitality and sheer, pound-for-pound song writing excellence.

Album centrepiece Hole In The Sky sees the band at their most ambitious, building an epic tale around the flamboyant orchestrations of keyboardist Karl Waye (who, like Cotterill and Hume is very impressive throughout), but pompous bombast (and remember those two words together in a Sentinel Daily review do not form a pejoritive comment) is just one edge to this band’s sword, and the following track, Break the Spell, shows the band in simpler but no less effective light, with those superb backing vocals again bolstering Hill’s lead in goosebump-inducing style.

Rise Up is another highlight, pushed forward by the rock solid drumming of Neil Ogden and pulsing, throbbing bass contributions from ex-Saxon/Statetrooper man Paul Fasker Johnson, and featuring yet more superb lead work, whilst Cradle To The Grave brings back memories – to this reviewer at least – of the band’s underrated ‘prog’ era of the late eighties with it’s multi-layered arrangements and drama-laden vocals. In short, it’s another very classy track indeed.

The album closes out with the emotional Hill autobiography Forever Seventeen, a lovely piece of finely crafted hard rock, and as the song draws to a muted close you find yourself reflecting on what you’ve just been listening to. Which is, in my opinion, one of the finest, most well-rounded and multi-faceted album Demon have yet committed to wax. Let’s hope they’ve got one or two more in them!

Melodic British hard rock would appear to be in rude health at the moment – although the bands that have brought out the best albums in this area this year, Magnum, Lionheart, Praying Mantis and FM, are all rather long in the tooth – and Demon have proved here that they are more than capable of holding their own in such august company.

Invincible releases on May 17th.