Started as a one-man side project that intended only to release splits, comps, and EP’s, Cleveland, Ohio’s Midnight have been gradually building renown since 2003. The act’s founder and main-man, Athenar, spent years gigging with other thrash and traditional heavy metal bands in the Cleveland area whilst moonlighting under the Midnight moniker – and he even did some live work with the mighty Toxic Holocaust – but nothing seemed to be truly panning out. By 2010, Athenar’s main projects had either fizzled out or completely split-up, and he was thus freed to solely focus on Midnight, a project that was initiated mostly just for fun and to stretch creative and thematic muscles.
However, by 2011, Midnight’s debut full-length Satanic Royalty had been released, and a new era in the act’s history had arrived. No longer just a side project, Midnight had become Athenar’s main undertaking, and like his compatriot Joel Grind of Toxic Holocaust, he continued (and continues to this day) to record all the instruments and vocals himself. But by this time, Athenar also knew that he needed live musicians to truly project his blackened, speedy, garage metal sound to the masses properly, and began experimenting with power trio lineups, with himself on bass and vocals, and a live guitarist and drummer. Hence, the Midnight that we now know and love was born, and the blasphemy had genuinely begun to spread in earnest.
Rooted in sexual debauchery, malediction, Satanic lust, and metal’s rock n’ roll origins, Midnight have a sound and an image that is not necessarily unique or groundbreaking, for this certainly isn't the first time that we’ve seen blackout masks, motorcycle jackets, fire, bullet belts, libidinous Satanic imagery, or blackened speed being used by a metal act (and nor will it be the last). But it is their unique amalgamation of these elements combined with their raw, unapologetic production, stick-to-itiveness, and sheer chutzpah that has truly defined Midnight; and it is this particular blend of style and substance that has manifestly transformed the once marginal side project into one of the hottest metal acts of the early 2020’s.
Continuing in this amelioration with their release of the albums No Mercy for Mayhem (2014) and Sweet Death and Ecstasy (2017) on Hell’s Headbanger Records, Midnight have since been picked up by the historically esteemed Metal Blade Records, and have returned with their fourth full-length effort, Rebirth by Blasphemy. Available as of January 24th, 2020, Rebirth by Blasphemy marks the official arrival of Midnight on the international scene, although many here in the States have long known that the day was fast approaching. Brisk, vehement, loud, in-your-face, and obdurate as all Hell and damnation, Rebirth by Blasphemy is everything longtime fans have come to expect from Midnight, and more.
Featuring nine new rancorous cuts that thrash, pummel, and violate, Rebirth by Blasphemy is Midnight’s magnum opus. Managing to capture the harsh rawness of Midnight’s live sets while still making the music sound great in the speakers, Rebirth by Blasphemy’s production is out-fucking-standing, to say the least. Honestly, it almost sounds as if you’re right there listening to them play live. Coarse, profane, and absolutely remorseless, every cut on this nine-track stunner is superb, but if forced to pick favorites, don’t skip “Fucking Speed and Darkness”, “Rising Scum”, “Raw Attack”, or the closer, “You Can Drag Me Through Fire”.
Midnight’s Rebirth by Blasphemy is available everywhere now through Metal Blade Records, so go grab a copy of your own if you like what you’ve read and heard (just press play below to listen to the album in its entirety)! Stay metal always. Nunc Dimmitis.
Rating: 9.5 / 10
Release Date: January 24th, 2020 (Metal Blade Records)
Influences and Contemporaries: Venom, Motörhead, Toxic Holocaust, Whipstriker, Bewitcher, Hellripper, BAT