EP REVIEW: Midnight Dice – Hypnotized – Underground Power Records

Coming off a self-titled demo in 2019, Midnight Dice’s first EP, Hypnotized (Underground Power Records/Hoove Child Records), sees the Chicagoans continuing to build their momentum. Comparisons to the musicians’ previous band Satan’s Hallow remain inevitable as Hypnotized rides on a similarly anthemic Classic Metal style. However, there are also developments that show the band beginning to carve out a more distinct identity.

The guitar approach is noticeably different than how Satan’s Hallow did things, only featuring a single player, Steve “Lethal” Beaudette, instead of the traditional two. While this move risks limiting the scope of their sound and diminishes harmony potential, a heavier tone with aggressive rhythms more than makes up for it. This is most apparent with ‘Speed City,’ which ends up somewhere between Judas Priest circa Defenders of the Faith and Thundersteel-era Riot thanks to an especially intense set of gallops and double bass drumming.

But even with that enhancement, Mandy Martillo’s vocals and hooks still draw the most attention. Her instantly contagious charisma and energetic delivery has made her one of the strongest singers in modern metal, even if her actual range isn’t necessarily all encompassing. Her fantastic ear for infectious choruses is also on full display with ‘Starblind’ and the title track making for some particularly memorable earworms. The closing ‘Lazer Tears’ also rounds things out nicely, easing up on the tempo and allowing for more melodic flexibility.

Overall, Midnight Dice’s Hypnotized is a fantastic offering that should appeal to fans of all things Heavy Metal. Seeing this orthodox style be executed with such conviction is always satisfying and the song layout gives the EP a sense of fullness while inviting replay value. The band’s rough and tumble style may be best suited for shorter releases like this, but I’m still anxious to see how their methods will play out in a full-length context. They’re poised to blow up soon and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.

9/10

CHRIS LATTA