It’s a bit too early to be making any proclamations of the sort, but I think Midnight may have just released the most metal album of 2020. And yes, there will likely be scores of other heavy releases this year that will overshadow Rebirth by Blasphemy (Metal Blade) in the blast beat, low tuning, or cookie monster vocal department. What I’m talking about is the mood, or more like the mean streak that multi-instrumentalist Athenar conjures up.
While the album art alone should catch the attention of the denim vest and black T-shirt crowd, I get particular enjoyment out of the song titles and lyrics. ‘Devil’s Excrement,’ ‘Fucking Speed and Darkness,’ and ‘You Can Drag Me Through Fire’ are either the most metal monikers I’ve ever heard, or the rantings scribbled in the back of a particularly deranged thirteen-year old’s notepad. Fortunately for the heathen listeners, Midnight knows how to back up the bravado with slabs of sweet licks and brisk tempos.
The aforementioned ‘Fucking Speed and Darkness’ and the title track that follows suit are particularly tapped into the nastier nature of bands like Motorhead and Venom. However, unlike the latter, Athenar has the chops to sprinkle in some technical and melodic lead guitar bits throughout the proceedings. Those of the shredding persuasion are also going to want to pay attention to the later moments of ‘Devil’s Excrement’ for some fireworks.
And it’s not just all about speedy wristwork, as ‘Rising Scum’ has Midnight taking their foot off the gas, but it’s pounding drums make sure that not one ounce of tension or menace is ever lost. Later in the album, the stock is fortified with fair amounts of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest inspired tuneful riffage on ‘The Sounds of Hell’ and ‘You Can Drag Me Through Fire’ without ever coming across as derivative.
It may still be very early, but if anyone is looking to wrest the bullet belt for the most metal album from Midnight you best say your prayers and take your vitamins.
8 / 10