Review: MidnightHellish Expectations

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Midnight? More like 10PM amirite? I’ll show myself out…

I’ve got to admit, my interest in Midnight has always been slightly colored by friends of mine who generally seem more enthusiastic about them than I am. The excitement I’d see from other people really hyped them up in my mind to the point where they seemed like some legendary band that must be made up of legendary musicians, better known as a supergroup. I even saw them at Maryland Deathfest once and got the same impression. I mean, the crowd ate it up. I ate it up. Their sound is accessible. Every track is catchy. It’s kind of a crusty blend of blackened thrash, but it’s also 100% rock ‘n’ roll. Even their logo is pretty rad. What’s not to love, right?

In my research for this article I realized I had some pretty wrong ideas about how this band was formed.  It’s not made up of some long line of legendary metal musicians. It hasn’t been around since the ’80s. It’s literally just one guy writing all the music, and when they play live he has a band come in to fill out the ranks. Nothing wrong with that at all. I was just surprised this project has only been around since 2003. But in that time the “band” has amassed a pretty sizable catalog. They pretty much release something every year, sometimes twice a year. According to Metal-Archives, Athenar (or Jaime Walters) originally intended to only ever release EPs and splits. I guess he eventually decided to break that rule because here we are with Hellish Expectations, their 6th full length record.

While I can’t give you the entire album, it’s pretty easy to get a sense of how it sounds based on this single. No one is reinventing the wheel here, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sifting through the promo packet, I stumbled across the fact that the entire record was conceived in just one weekend.

“It’s a knuckle dragger with a fat cutoff,” elaborates Athenar, “Pure testosterone meat. Probably the most concise and straight to the point MIDNIGHT album to date, and all written in a weekend. The album was written on pure reaction upon leaving the studio after listening to raw tracks from the previous album Let There Be Witchery. The final mix of that album was good, but at the time of laying it down in the studio, I didn’t like what I was hearing and demanded a new leviathan of an album to be written that weekend.”

I think I agree with that statement. It’s very much a no bullshit experience. From start to finish, every track does feel like the fat has been cut off. I’m actually a big fan of that style of songwriting. Don’t waste my time with a bunch of noise or buildup if the main riffs don’t carry any weight to begin with. That said, writing that way can be a double-edged sword. While every track on this album gets straight to the point, the overall experience leaves me wanting. As most meat-eaters know, sometimes the fat is the best part. Without a lot of lead up or clever transitioning, Athenar’s original inclination to only do EPs and splits actually seems like the right choice most of the time. Personally, I think Midnight is best enjoyed in smaller chunks as it has a tendency to get repetitive the longer it goes on.

So what’s the verdict? None of it is bad per se, but the songs don’t stand out greatly from one another. Hellish Expectations is a 40 minute run of what we all love about the band, but also more of the same. Fans are not going to be disappointed, but for me this record solidifies them as a bit of a one trick pony. If you like that one trick, you’ll enjoy it. I, for one, enjoy the trick. You’ll bang your head a good bit, and if you’re driving you’ll get speeding tickets. It’s slimy, it’s grimy, yet somehow it’s also good clean fun. Overall I think this band is better experienced live, but don’t take that the wrong way. This album is nothing to sneeze at. Just maybe not something I’ll revisit over and over. Whole thing drops on Metal Blade Records March 8, 2024. Don’t let the score fool ya, I know I write for a toilet themed website but trust me, Hellish Expectations is no turd!

3.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

Hellish Expectations drops March 8 through Metal Blade Records. Check it out here!

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