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Midnight – Sweet Death And Ecstasy

Sweet Death And Ecstasy
by Erik Akos at 30 December 2017, 10:46 PM

MIDNIGHT is a US one-man-band formed by Athenar (real name Jameson Walters) in Cleveland, Ohio. He has released 5 EPs and 3 LPs in his career under the MIDNIGHT moniker. Our subject today is his latest full-length effort, ”Sweet Death And Ecstasy” –a  perfect title, in my humble opinion; fitting for the music, and also cool in its own right. ’Cool’, get used to that word, because you’re going to see it a lot in this review.

The record starts out long and ends long, as the opener and closer are both long 6 and a half minute tracks, and are composed to be not just your typical 3 minute songs dragged out to be twice as long, both as solid tracks. They bear some similarities between each other, but while ”Crushed By Demons” is more riff/guitar focused, ”Before My Time In Hell” places a heavier emphasis on groove and vocals.
Everything in between? Well, some there is some pretty cool and fun shit and some generic NWOBHM ”copy-catting”. The album does a great job at mixing some stylistic aspects of several NWOBHM bands whilst maintaining a balance between that and it’s own musical and lyrical ideas. The album’s lyrics are mostly based on a ’midnight’ tripping and some sexual satanic rituals; I’ll let you decide if that’s a good concept or not, but I think the execution is funny and enjoyably fucked up.

Musically, the record offers a fair amount of variety, but – as expected – nothing groundbreaking. The MOTÖRHEAD-ish ”Penetratal Ecstasy” is a great example of what this guy is capable of instrumentally and vocally, and has a great tone and feel to it, whilst its follow-up ”Here Comes Sweet Death” has stronger songwriting, but feels kind of…lacking. The track gives off a „ketchup-and-ice-cream” feeling, especially with the mix.

The guitars and drums are really solid, but they don’t fit the vocals of ”Athenar”, and this hurts the coolness factor, which is what ”Sweet Death and Ecsasy” builds upon the most. The lyrics are also rather cringy sometimes. Tracks 4 and 5 are basically fillers; the short ”Melting Brain” is completely redundant, whilst the more riff-oriented ”Rabid!” – although having enjoyable guitars – lacks originality, chemistry and its structure is too all-over-the-place; cool solo though.

Fortunately the rest of the album is awesome. The Judas Priesty JUDAS PRIEST-y ”Bitch Mongrel” brings back that fucked-up coolness whilst coming up with some stuff not yet heard on ”Sweet Death and Ecstasy”, and ”Poison Trash”, the last ”normal” song here has subtle Black Metal elements to it with the rhythm guitars, and although it is slightly tiring towards the last 30 seconds, is overall a great banger.

So, how can I sum up ”Sweet Death and Ecsasy”? A quick, twisted adventure of Speed Metal-infused NWOBHM.  There is some riffing, some groove, some mediocrity, some awesomeness - a little bit of everything. The biggest complaint I have is the record’s production  most notably on the mixing of the vocals and the way they layered the instruments. It doesn’t break the experience, but it makes the effort less immersive if you’re listening to it  from start to finish. Bottom line, I’d recommend this album to any lover of Classic Metal, and anyone who’s looking for a quick catchy listen. To lovers of more complex or advanced compositions and unique ideas however, I’d say -  to quote movie critic Jeremy Jahns – ”You’re not gonna remember ”Sweet Death and Ecsasy” in T-minus 1 week.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 4

3 Star Rating

1. Crushed By Demons
2. Penetratal Ecstay
3. Here Comes Sweet Death
4. Melting Brain
5. Rabid!
6. Bitch Mongrel
7. Poison Trash
8. Before My Time In Hell
Athenar – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Drums
Record Label: Hells Headbangers Records


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