It’s hard to imagine a horror film from the ’90s that doesn’t have a heavy metal or hard rock soundtrack to accompany it, and Demon Knight is certainly no exception. While most fans probably don’t rate it as high as its contemporaries — The Crow, Lost Highway, and Judgement Night come to mind — Demon Knight comfortably fills the gap between the thrash metal sound of the late ’80s and the alternative sound that followed.
The album opens on a strong note with Pantera’s breakout hit “Cemetery Gates,” originally released on their 1990 album, Cowboys From Hell. It certainly sets the tone; the track snakes through soft and loud segments, accented by guitarist Dimebag Darrell’s harmonic squeals and singer Phil Anselmo’s guttural screams. The track was already 5 years old at the time Demon Knight was released, so using an already popular song to kick it off was a smart move; horror films have always attracted teens and Pantera’s brand of metal was all the rage in high schools across the U.S.
Industrial metal also gets its due with the inclusion of Ministry’s “Tonight We Murder,” an outtake from 1988’s The Land of Rape and Honey. It’s not the strongest Ministry song by any stretch, but the constantly pulsing beat and distorted vocals successfully propel the horror camp narrative along. One of the more interesting choices is Sepultura’s “Policia,” a Titãs cover that manages to parry between breakneck thrash and sludgy nu-metal with ease.
The strongest track is reserved for Filter’s “Hey Man Nice Shot,” a song that everyone’s heard a million times now, but was minty fresh in 1995. Personally, I know it more from the Giovanni Ribissi X-Files episode (it looms in the background as he uses lightning to kill people) than the attempt to shoehorn it into a Tales From the Crypt film. Either way, it’s a great song and a welcome addition to the soundtrack.
The original Demon Knight vinyl release was only available in Europe, so my main reference for comparison is the CD soundtrack I had as a teen. The sound here is incredibly crisp with no mid-range muddiness or overwhelming bass. A lot of that can be attributed to the way albums were mixed at the time, but it translates perfectly fine onto a (traditionally) more balanced medium like vinyl. There was little to no surface noise present and the tracking was smooth. Compared to my CD, the vinyl had considerably more depth and richness.
While the sound and wax are both nice, I would have loved a little more attention to detail on the sleeve. The cardboard is very thin, to the point that you’ll want to be careful for seam splits. The artwork is a direct copy of the CD art, which shows in the fact that most of the text (especially on the back) is blurry and fuzzy around the edges. I’ve seen this in the past with other soundtracks, and it’s a shame they can’t find the original art for more clarity. The record itself is gorgeous; the green works well thematically and looks great on the turntable.
Demon Knight is limited to 1,100 copies and is available on opaque green vinyl at Real Gone Music.