The dark legend is emerging, again, from shadows. In just six years, Midnight’s full length LP legacy has attained revered status. While their profile has grown; rising from the ornery alleys of Cleveland to National tours, Athenar has brought his vision to menacing manifestation. Begun as his one man outlet to release singles sporadically, after eight years, in 2011, destiny demanded his atrocious vision to expand onto the LP form, Satanic Royalty. In 2014, No Mercy for Mayhem was spawned. Audiences now kneel before Midnight’s third offering, Sex Death and Ecstasy.
Sweet Death and Ecstasy is piloted by a six and a half minutes track, “Crushed By Demos”. Midnight has never had a track flourish beyond four minutes before, and declarations are made here. Sweet Death and Ecstasy is bookended by another six and a half minute closer, “My Time in Hell”. The slower, bludgeoning feel of the opener, with one minute remaining, gallops into Maiden-esque feel. But when the vile “Penetratal Ecstasy”, track two, takes the reigns, sinister Bathory/Venom adoration is heralded. Fast and belligerent and riddled with penury lyrics, Midnight fans are treated to Midnight’s magic.
The album continues, expanding on the sound while staying in their zone. Sweet Death and Ecstasy is not a band yearning for growth or evolution for the sake of artistic hubris, Athenar is simply stretching his limbs. As we hear on the third track, “Here Comes Sweet Death” opens with a cowbell punctuated mid-tempo stomp garnished with squiggly guitars and then a pounding riff. The slow stomp yields to a Motorhead feel. When the bass drums enter the mix, the song starts to gather momentum. Additional layers of emotive guitars incite an atmosphere of lament and regret.
“Melting Brain” ends side one with is speed and ferocity. The tight riff rides in repetition and propels the track. The little ‘ting ting ting’ guitar nuance in the left speaker adds some texture. “Rabid” is a powerhouse, building on a searing riff, nice fret work here as the track builds to an ascending chord into the chorus. The tension is lifted into an explosive climax. “Bitch Mongrel” touts a great bluesy NWOBHM feel. Penultimate track, “Poison Trash” is a scorcher and probably the best here. Speedy and treacherous, the guitars and drums push and push matching the severe desperation of the vocals. Ending on a grimy breakdown adds a crucial punch.
Production on Sweet Death and Ecstasy is targeted perfectly, guitar leads and vocals and drum kicks all get equal footing. Living up to Satanic Royalty is an imposing task. Athenar here allows himself to expand yet deliver for the fans. He sticks to what he knows and executes the delivery with astonishing results. Highly recommended for those guided by filth lust and sleaze.
RIYL: Motorhead, Angel Witch, Razor, Venom, Hellhammer, Mentors, Toxic Holocaust, Inepsy, Nunslaughter