The Plague by Demon holds up surprisingly well for an early 80s concept album by a band that started out as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Founding guitarist Malcolm Spooner could have been one of the great guitarists of British metal if he hadn’t died young, and his licks and fills integrate perfectly with the keyboards in this album.

Cover for Demon's 1983 album, The Plague

I’m not sure where this came from. In Night of the Demon and The Unexpected Guest, Demon alternated between occult/horror movie themes and women-and-motorcycles pub metal anthems. There’s none of that in The Plague; what we get instead is an English sci-fi dystopia straight out of Orwell, The Prisoner, or V for Vendetta.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d suspect that Michael Moorcock was involved; it wouldn’t be out of character given his work with Hawkwind and the Blue Oyster Cult.

Unfortunately, The Plague may have been a little too ambitious after Demon’s previous efforts. Fans expecting more of the same got something completely different instead, and it proved rather hard to swallow. I wonder how many of them went on to lap up Iron Maiden’s 1988 foray into prog, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.

It’s unfortunate that nobody recognized what Demon was trying to do with The Plague at the time. These guys were doing progressive metal before Queensryche, Fates Warning, or Dream Theater.

If you’re into melodic or progressive metal, and you haven’t listened to The Plague, you’ve missed out on an album that was ahead of its time despite being firmly rooted in the early 1980s.