Review of “Rebirth By Blasphemy” by Midnight (Metal Blade, 2020)

Rebirth By Blasphemy is the new release from Midnight, out January 24 from Metal Blade Records, and it’s a scorcher.

I have always thought of Midnight’s music as Punk first and Thrash second, probably because the early Eps made a big impression on me, and because of the attitude of the that music. It was very Punk. Maybe labeling really doesn’t matter all that much, but it does you give you some idea of what you’ll hear if you are new to the band, or in this case, the person. The force in Midnight is Athenar, who has been the face (typically shrouded) of the underground band for almost twenty years, writing all the songs and playing on the instruments on the studio recordings. Along with a seemingly endless string of Eps and splits, Midnight has risen out of the shadows in the last decade, propelled by their full-length releases Satanic Royalty (2011), No Mercy for Mayhem (2014) and Sweet Death and Ecstasy (2017) on Hells Headbangers Records. Rebirth By Blasphemy is their fourth long play.

The album starts out howling with “Fucking Speed and Darkness,” a song filled with heavy guitars, rough vocals, and undeniably catchy hooks. The title track is next, and it has an anthem-like twist – everybody will be singing along with this one at the live shows. By the time you get to song #3, “Escape the Grave,” you’re hooked. The musical structure has all the heavy elements fans of the earlier albums will be looking for: speed, growls, short lead breaks, and memorable choruses. Over the years the songs have gotten longer, and have moved away from Punk a little toward the thrashy metal corner of the spectrum. Rebirth By Blasphemy has a lot of old school metal in it, and it works in as an intoxicating blend of intention and execution with a primal sensibility. It is heavy music from front to back and a welcome follow-up to Sweet Death. Recommended.

If you can’t wait for the whole set to drop, head out to the launch party Friday January 10th at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. It is open to the public and it is going to be a wild evening. Look for Midnight on the road – they are playing several dates here and there including Decibel Magazine’s Metal & Beer Fest in Philadelphia in April and the Northwest Terror Fest in Seattle in May. Their Facebook page (link below) has more information on their live shows.

Links.

http://totalmidnight.webs.com/ (mainly an archive site last update in 2016)

http://midnight-ohio.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/midnightviolators/

https://www.instagram.com/midnightviolators/

Review of “Rebirth By Blasphemy” by Midnight (Metal Blade, 2020)

New Release Review: Oni, Alone (Metal Blade).

Oni is a progressive metal band that has been around for a lustrum or so. Their first album, Ironshore, came out in 2016 receiving good notices and much deserved attention. Making tour appearances with Gojira and Children of Bodom, Oni started to gain a following by more and more by fans. The EP Alone is out from Metal Blade on December 13, 2019 and sees a welcome return of the heavy prog sensibilities of Ironshore in a more compact package.

The new one is consistent with the debut, if a little more polished and absent the epic 11-minute song like “The Science” from Ironshore. One-at-a-timing it, “Alone” begins with a melodic trance and goes sharp fast, with popping percussion and piercing staccato guitars. Mournful lyrics get set aside by the band’s signature xylosynth breaks only to return before an abrupt ending that leaves you a little dizzy. This opener sets the tone for the the rest of the music, but does not give away all the surprises. Vocalist Jake Oni starts gruff with “Rift” before mixing in softer tones about being confused and lost. The music has a frantic wandering not seen since Saga’s World’s Apart album, touched quietly by the rare Jake E. Lee warble moment. “Dead Inside” is a hard-driving corruption, a pulsing expedition forcing its way through a thick jungle. It is rough and relentless with only the smallest pauses for rest in the middle. I expected a bit of a wind-down on “Breathe Again” just because of the rampant pace of the first four songs, but that does not happen – howls this time from the synth and swirling tension from the guitars, raw emotion in the vocals. The EP closes with a dissonant clap on the ears, “Faceless Portrait.” Showing the coarsest vocals of the set, and the tallest musical construction, Oni brings the hammer down on the final song with authority and crushing power.

No other band straddles the metal/prog in quite the same way was a Oni. But it is not just that the band has a different sound compared to other metal acts – what sets them apart is a vision and a message that is loud and clear in their live performances, and is conjured and solidified in Alone. The songs “Alone” and “Breathe Again” are the singles but you are going to want to listen to all five of them, preferably together. They really do hold up as a set, and there is a clear musical and narrative arc from the first to the last. Recommended.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/TheOniBand

https://www.instagram.com/theONIband

New Release Review: Oni, Alone (Metal Blade).

Cannibal Corpse, Thy Art Is Murder, and Perdition Temple at Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont, Concert Review

Cannibal Corpse rolled into South Burlington, Vermont Sunday night on their Red Before Black Tour. Their show at Higher Ground was a Fall highlight for North Country Metalheads looking for a night of extreme music.

Perdition Temple

The opening band was Perdition Temple, a three-piece Death Metal act featuring Gene Palubicki on guitar and vocals with Ronnie Parmer on drums and Alex Blume working the bass. Fast and aggressive, the riff-heavy, driving guitar broke the ice and set the tone for evening. Palubicki’s coarse voice and precision fretting filled the room with energy and threat. Wrapping up a tight 30 minutes in a blistering frenzy, Perdition Temple surely made the list for a lot of new fans in the audience.

Perdition Temple

The middle act was Thy Art Is Murder, an Australian band whose music is usually placed in the deathcore category. I heard many fans in the crowd saying they’d come specifically to see Thy Art Is Murder and that didn’t surprise me at all – they have a big following and they don’t tour the US all the time. The band puts up a powerful wall of sound with two guitars via Andy Marsh and Sean Delander that surround frontman CJ McMahon. The bass backing by Kevin Butler and clinical drumming by Jesse Beahler complete the scene.

Thy Art Is Murder

CJ McMahon was suffering from a respiratory infection which caused him obvious discomfort but his performance didn’t seem to suffer at all. Leaning into material from their new album Human Target (Nuclear Blast), Thy Art Is Murder shook the room and played to their strengths, not neglecting fan favorites. In fact, the only time the crowd was actually singing punchlines was during the Thy Art Is Murder set. McMahon talked the crowd into greater participation by reflecting on how wild the show in Montreal the night before had been. Burlington, he told us, was great, but Montreal was unmatchable. The circle pits were going in force, presaging the vortex they would become with the headliner. There were no disappointments with their solid heavy work.

Thy Art Is Murder
Thy Art Is Murder

The main event was Cannibal Corpse, rounding out the tail end of their Red Before Black (Metal Blade) tour. Standing in the pit in the dark after the band had taken the stage but before they began playing, I could see vocalist George Fisher, Corpsegrinder. He stood with his back to the crowd taking deep, fierce breaths, filling his lungs to ready himself for the auditory assault he and the band were about to perpetrate. Hit the lights, hit the sound, and the crowd erupted to “Code of the Slashers.” Moshing started almost immediately and within a few minutes, an enormous circle pit had formed in the Higher Ground Ballroom with a pulsing jagged edge. Metal was happening.

Cannibal Corpse

The band lead with three songs from the latest album then took a tour through their long catalogue of music. Rob Barrett and Erik Rutan brought the riffs and shreds with veteran accuracy while founding members Alex Webster and Paul Mazurkiewicz steadied the songs with an unbreachable foundation. Fisher did not disappoint with his signature hair whipping head snaps, his face completely covered by the result when he sang. This is a band that never makes any excuses and always delivers the fury.

Cannibal Corpse
Cannibal Corpse

Never slowing down, Cannibal Corpse announced in October that they would begin working on a new album, their 15th full-length release, as soon as the current tour wraps up. See the show while you can. Cannibal Corpse, Thy Art Is Murder, and Perdition Temple is a great lineup. They are three bands that complement each other by employing similar musical themes while maintaining unique identities and performance styles.

Cannibal Corpse

Cannibal Corpse, Thy Art Is Murder, and Perdition Temple at Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont, Concert Review