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Midnight Force - Goddodin

Midnight Force
by Tiago Masseti at 05 November 2019, 11:10 PM

A raw production with fantasy and historical elements sprinkled with tales of war make MIDNIGHT FORCE’s sophomore album a pleasant journey back in time. The Scottish quartet returns just a year after their debut with “Goddodin”, a fast-paced record that immediately transports the listener to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the 80’s United Kingdom. In an age of wall-of-sound guitars, overly-processed drums and Melodyne-ridden vocals, it does feel fresh to listen to an album that has a live approach to it. Light up your campfire and gather 'round for this is 42 minutes of Roman campaigns, crusaders and Scottish warriors battling the Angles.

Right off the bat, the track “Eternal Emperor” kicks in with groovy riffs and a very present bass in the mix. The single bass pedal drumming emphasizing the accents in the low-gain guitars is a key element to pay tribute to the late 70’s and early 80’s British bands. It works well instead of the usual continuous double-bass groove that modern Power Metal bands have used to exhaustion. Halfway through the song, the tempo comes down to give room to a slower section with a big chanting that resembles the early SAVATAGE records. It does have some unorthodox choices in the harmonization that can drive away the more theory-oriented listener. The second track “The Doom of Kiev” follows in the same direction with similar pacing, without the tempo change mid-sections. Next up, “In Lindisfarne it Lay” is a more radio-friendly track that feels like 80's IRON MAIDEN era and ends with a folk acoustic guitar section, reinforcing the time-traveling sensation.

“Walls of Acre” brings down the groove in a Bluesy and more somber way. At this point the rawness of the production, especially in the vocals and guitar solos, start to feel a little too much. This song could definitely be a good contender for a potential hit if the performances were a little stronger and the choirs a bit more glued to the harmony and tempo of the song. Slower sections always tend to bring out a band’s weaknesses and here a more careful production would have been a positive thing. “Parthia” is one of the album’s highlights, a little more aggressive and a bit faster than the previous song, almost in the likes of MOTÖRHEAD and JUDAS PRIEST. The different tone in the background vocals and the spooky section at the end add some nice colors to the experience. In the next one, “Covenant”, is where we see bassist Brenden Crow shine with his melodic lines strongly conversing with the vocals. “Over the Phantom Sea” turns everything up and feels like a summary of the entire album so far. This song has all the elements that can make this band memorable. The sing-along sections, the fast and aggressive parts, the high-pitched vocals and the occasional groovier riff, all melted into five-and-a-half-minutes of NWOBHM. The final track “Y Goddodin” starts with two minutes of acoustic guitars and choral voices singing melodies that feel nostalgic and lamenting, almost like a burial hymn being sung by the shores. It does end the record in a strong way and, as traditionally done by many bands, it is the longest and more varied track on “Goddodin”.

For those looking for big production and intricate music in their Metal, this is definitely not the record for you. It’s a straight-forward, simple and aggressive traditional album with a few different elements here and there. It might sound a little too rough and unpolished to many, but in that we find the strongest aspect of this album. It does take courage and a sense of revolution not to edit everything down to the grid and correct the pitch on every single vocal when this is something that can be done in a cheap computer and an open-source software these days. It is a fearless creative choice that takes you back to when things were simpler and it was all about telling a story. Naturally the band will work on their craft with time and once that approach meets stronger performances we can expect some great stuff from this Scottish quartet.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 6
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Eternal Emperor
2. The Doom of Kiev
3. In Lindisfarne it Lay
4. Walls of Acre
5. Parthia
6. Covenant
7. Over the Phantom Sea
8. Y Gododdin
John Gunn - Vocals
Ansgar Burke - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Brenden Crow - Bass, Backing Vocals
Pete Werninck - Drums, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Iron Shield Records


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