The Black Crows Daemon is a workhorse, and although several other skis gave them a run for their money, our testers consistently picked the Black Crows as one of their favorites out of our huge lineup in 2018-2019. The fully, albeit slightly, rockered profile and the 99mm waist are strikingly similar to the previous versions of the Volkl Mantra. The main difference, according to our testers, was that the Daemon was much more forgiving, and therefore appealed to a wider range of skiers. The new Volkl M5 Mantra, is now more forgiving still, earning it this year's Editor's Choice Award. Now, don't be mistaken and assume that because we are calling these skis forgiving that it means they are soft, floppy, or any other derogatory term. Both of these excellent skis charge — it's just that they're friendly enough for an intermediate skier and burly enough for an expert. The Daemons earn a well-deserved second place this year.
Black Crows Daemon Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Hard charging, fun, easy to ski
Cons: Slight chatter at high-end speed
Manufacturer: Black Crows
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Black Crows may be relatively new to the scene (founded in 2006), but they have been producing high-quality skis since their inception. They are based in Chamonix, France and have recently gained an international following. Black Crows may be considered a "boutique" ski company, but after a few of our testers got on a pair last year and wouldn't stop talking about them, we knew we had to give them a try!
We tested the Daemon in a 183cm length (183.6 according to Black Crows) at 99mm underfoot. Although skinny is the new fat, the 99mm waist proved to be ideal for the many snow conditions we tested in. It is fully rockered, but its rocker is very gradual and slight, which makes for a ski that is easy to pivot. A titanal plate in 2/3rds of the ski makes for a very stable ski that still leaves room for some improvisation. Minimal sidecut and a 20m wide turn radius shouldn't scare you away, as the ski is still very quick edge to edge.
The Daemon is an amazing example of how new technology has progressed the sport of skiing and is exactly what an All-Mountain ski should be. Perfect for a wide range of skiers in every snow condition imaginable, the Daemon was a close second place.
Stability at Speed
You could call the Daemon a Speed Daemon. Lame joke, but a ripping ski! Though some fully rockered skis feel floppy when you start picking up speeds, the Daemon is strikingly similar to the Volkl M5 Mantra's ability to feel very stable no matter how fast you push them.
Despite the fully rockered profile, 84% of the ski is engaged, which adds to the stability and makes the skier feel as if he is using the entire ski. The titanal metal plate, which is found in 2/3rds of the ski, adds to its ability to absorb small bounces and deflections and allows the ski to track well. In similar fashion to the Blizzard Rustler 10, our testers only experienced chatter at the highest end of their speed limits and on the firmest of conditions on the Daemon. Skiers should feel confident in opening it up on a pair of these skis. We recommend fresh tracks on soft wide open groomers for the biggest smiles.
Set this ski on edge, and you'll be grinning from ear to ear. You might even give a "whoop!" The Daemons are so easy to get on edge, even an intermediate skier will be feeling like Bode Miller. While the edge to edge transition is quite fast, like the Nordica Enforcer 93 and the Rossignol Experience 88 TI, its edge hold is equally impressive. As mentioned before, despite the rocker profile, when carving hard, it feels like the entire ski edge is engaged.
Some of our most aggressive testers preferred the M5 over the Daemon when evaluating only carving ability, but the difference was so slight that they ultimately received the same score. Being slightly narrower underfoot than the Blizzard Rustler 10 and Rossignol Soul 7 HD makes the Daemon a quicker ski edge to edge, and despite its relatively long turn radius at 20m it is still able to carve short, small turns with ease. (See the K2 Pinnacle 88 TI for a shorter, 17m radius.) After buying a pair of these Daemons, you may find yourself lining up with the locals in the morning just to rip down fresh groomers.
These skis perform well in everyone's favorite category and deserve the hard-earned and impressive score. We all know crud isn't exactly sought after but sometimes it is necessary, and when you need to bust some crud to get back to the chair, feel confident that when you reach for the Daemons, you're choosing the right tool for the job. Although the Volkl M5 Mantra beat it in this single category, it still holds its own.
In firm chopped up conditions that ate other skis up, the Daemon was damp and resisted deflection of its tips very well. The slightly rockered tip helps the ski get above the crud, and the combination metal and poplar core help reduce the vibrations the could rattle your teeth.
In everyone's ACTUAL favorite category, powder the Daemon impressed even the most biased of skeptics.
The fully rockered profile helps float the ski in the snow, and it has a very surfy feel that is surprisingly similar to the Rossignol Soul 7 HD. In light, fluffy powder, the Daemon bounds between turns and has a bunch of pop. In Sierra cream-cheese-type powder, the surfy nature of the ski takes over.
At 99mm underfoot, our testers found it to be the perfect width for keeping you afloat in all but the deepest of powder days (don't worry, we have a ski review category for those days too). The Daemon feels bouncier in the champaign style powder, unlike the Blizzard Bonafide, due in part to having a much softer flex in the tip and tail. This is the perfect ski for your resort based pow day when you're hitting your secret stashes in the morning and searching for more in the afternoon.
We all just want to have fun, right? Well, so do the Daemons.
This category is where they closely mirrored their close rival, the M5. The softer tips and tails add to the skis pop and soft landings, while the reverse camber makes tip and tail butters super fun.
We saw our testers taking every opportunity to get these skis in the air. They are not a true twin tip, and don't ski as well switch as the Moment PB&J, but have enough pop to make any feature fun. When you're on the Daemons, the whole mountain is your park.
The Daemon continued to impress our testers as we took them into the bumps. The camber profile is the most noticeable, and it allows the skier to pivot easily between moguls.
The slightly softer flex and forgiving nature of the Daemon remind us of the Rustler 10 and the snap is similar to the Moment PB&J. If you were using the Daemon as more exclusive mogul ski, you might want to go a size down, but otherwise, these skis will let you zipper down your favorite bump line.
This is truly what companies should strive for when creating a ski that is capable of handling the whole mountain. Its best application is whatever you want to ski. Groomers? Check. Bumps? Check. Cliff drops and side hits? Check. Steep and narrows? Check. Ice? Sure, why not?!
The Daemon is not the most expensive ski we reviewed, but it is pricey. Coming in at $800 may be a hard pill to swallow, but spend one day on them, and that price will sound like they are giving them away. It's hard to put a price on unlimited fun. Of course, the Volkl M5 score higher and cost less, so there are better deals out there.
Call them whatever you want; one-quiver ski, all-mountain ski, the only pair of skis you'll ever buy…the Black Crows Daemon are a great choice. They are stiff enough to rail groomers on edge but forgiving enough to make anyone feel like a hero. They're just as home in the bumps as they are in a foot of fresh pow. They'll handle the crud without complaints and keep a smile on your face all the way back to the lift.
— Andrew Pierce