Demon: The Plague (1983)

We reach for the sleeve. Gatefold, naturally. (No other version will do. And don’t talk to me about how the cover has nothing to do with the music. This album is an entity; a living, breathing thing. Single sleeve versions simply can’t provide the overall experience that the full gatefold sleeve does. But I digress…)

Gatefold. Black and white pencil drawing on the cover: creepy robot guy in a pinstripe suit, bowler hat, tie, carnation on his lapel.

Syringe in his hand. One foot planted firmly on the earth. Shredded UN flag by his side. Small, cheap-looking portable tv with broken screen in the background. Old-school “futuristic” “computer font” for the album’s title: THE PLAGUE.

Creepy in some sort of political way that I don’t quite get. Because I’m only 15 years old at the time. Too naive to understand much about politics. But wise enough to sense that it’s unsettling.

Inside, gatefold art. More black and white drawings. People iimprisoned behind fences. Crouched desparately in hallways… our evil bowler hat-wearing robot friend always ready with needle in hand…

Speaking of “needle”, we let it drop. Fade in some synth sound that seems to emulate aural pinpricks… (the painful stabbing pricking of the syringe as it breaks through skin and psyche?)
Mal Spooner’s legendary opening hook. A single black line cutting through the pinpricks, punctuated by 2 power chords. Swirling synths in the background. After we repeat this A/B motif, cymbal crashes usher in a palm-muted rhythm guitar and some heavy drum rolls. (Single-sticking all the way.)

Finally, the drums kick in and we enter the chorus. Still pretty heavy, even with piano thrown in. Awesome vocal harmonies… root, third, fifth. (Live they only pulled off the root and fifth, leaving a big hole. But it’s understandable… live is live. A whole different world.)

Chorus transitions into Verse 1, and we’re seemingly in a different world. We just stepped out of the gloom and darkness into a somewhat brighter scene, albeit lit by the loud hum and flicker of high pressure sodium vapor streetlights and graffiti. Those keyboards border on being just a touch too cheerful for me. But somehow, it works.

The rest of the album is awesome.

After falling in love with The Plague, I jumped on the next release, “Wonderland” (EP) with high expectations. [The song “Wonderland” had been included on a compilation album like Metal Minded (] Blindingly sunny and cheerful, the synths made me feel like I was riding in the Partridge Family bus. Thus ended my brief intimate relationship as a fan of Demon, the dynamic, changing band. (RIP, Mal.)

The love affair with The Plague lingers on, however, some 28 years later.