SATANIC ROYALTY…Midnight Review
Midnight, for those who don’t know, play beer soaked, blackened heavy metal. Equal parts classic Bathory and Judas Priest with a massive dose of punk energy, their latest release, Satanic Royalty, takes the blueprint laid out by their singles and split compilation, Complete and Total Fucking Midnight, to the next level. A whirlwind of NWOBHM inspired, heshed out metal, Satanic Royalty is a blast of sulfurous air in a genre so often taking itself too seriously. With a live set consisting of black hooded maniacs setting their instruments on fire, destroying their gear, and wreaking general mayhem, Midnight take no prisoners. Opening with the eponymous “Satanic Royalty”, the differences from their earlier releases are clear. A noisy intro consisting of backwards vocals, organs, distortion gives way to a fist pumping guitar lead. For fans who were worrying about the production on this record, do not worry-this is a near perfect mix. With guitars right up front, drum and bass driving each track (not buried!), and the vocals of Athenar crisp and clear, the production on here puts the immense talent of each member on full display.
Feeding right into the Judas Priest inspired “You Can’t Stop Steel” the dual guitar work shines. Soaring leads interplay perfectly with the rhythm, gang vocals kicking in on the chorus of “You can’t stop steel!”. There’s a confidence on this track, and across this album that affirms Midnight’s spot in the heavy metal pantheon. Between the singalong chorus, the wild solo that dominates the second half, and the unhinged way it all falls apart at the end, there’s an inspiring level of showmanship that carries through the very end.
“Necromania”, a track Hells Headbangers has previewed, verges closer to the classic black metal roots of this band. With all members pounding out a death march that diverges little from the simple rhythm driven by drummer Count Zigar, Athenar’s screams ring out like a warcry, until just halfway through where a simple instrumental breakdown sends this song into full on mosh pit territory, steadily building to a grinding crescendo. “Necromania”, more than any other track on this record, stands out as a synthesis of what this band is about; blackened heavy metal meets pure stomping punk. Reminiscent of the genre bending madness of Eyehategod, this track serves as a nice mix up to the largely pure heavy metal sound of the first few tracks on this record.
The anthemic “Lust, Filth and Sleaze” is next. Living up to the title, this song is an anthem to depravity. Feeling like a spiritual sequel to their epic “Endless Slut”, thrashing guitars and a d-beat drum complement the prurient lyrics of this track before devolving into a mind dissolving solo showcasing Athenar and Filey the Kid’s insane chops. The last few tracks of this album lean back towards a d-beat style, showcased best on “Holocaustic Deafening”. A bass and d-beat intro dissolves into a simple guitar rhythm, edging closer towards a classic crust metal sound. Shorter than the first half, the last few tracks seem almost like a mini-album unto themselves, until we hit the final track” Shock Til Blood”. Pulling no punches, it opens with a dual guitar solo that drops into pure heavy metal showmanship, Athenar and Filey the Kid trading off licks and joining together for an epic solo that dissolves back into the body of the song. Athenar is in top form here, his voice modulated and layered on itself, keeping pace with the breakneck instrumentals.
Midnight are the kind of band who know exactly what they wanted out of their sound and aesthetic. Having covered both Quiet Riot and GG Allin in the past, you can see how these two influences spawned this behemoth. Satanic Royalty is a triumphant postcard to the legends of heavy metal, but also a very forward facing work. Combining d-beat, black metal, NWOBHM, hardcore punk, and everything in between, this record manages to sound supremely familiar, but totally unlike anything else out there. Satanic Royalty is a raging deathcharge of a record, hedonistic and ultraviolent,
Above all though, this record is just fucking fun. No politics, no scenes, just metal, beer, and fucking—the way it should be.
Satanic Royalty is due out November 8th on Hells Headbangers. Available on both vinyl and CD, it should be noted the CD releases comes with a DVD of their live performances, which as I have mentioned, are simply epic. Check the trailer here. Check out their page on Hells Headbangers here, which includes future dates at Baltimore and San Antonio.
Hail the new Satanic Royalty!