Cleveland’s Midnight is as sure to keep pioneering blackened speed metal as they are to fill their artworks with satanic lesbian orgies (Now there’s a band name for ya). Sweet Death and Ecstasy provides much of the same Venom-inspired mayhem as its two predecessors but it adds some some tweaks to the established formula. While Midnight’s experiments may not as wild as their stage shows, the results are refreshing while being as entertaining as ever.
Sweet Death and Ecstasy features multi-instrumentalist Anthenar’s established mix of sleazy guitar riffs, unhinged drums, and harsh vocals, but it may also have less emphasis on the “black” part of Midnight’s black metal label. It’s immediately noticed as the bookending “Crushed by Demons” and “Before My Time in Hell” are the band’s slowest and longest songs to date. It goes even further as songs like “Here Comes Sweet Death” feature much more of their hard rock influences than was previously established, even offering choruses that could be called sing-along in nature.
While this different songwriting approach does result in more immediately memorable tracks, there is concern as to how it affects the group’s musicianship. The performances aren’t quite at the level of savagery seen before, but even the slower numbers exert plenty of energy and passion. It also helps that upbeat rockers like the misogynistic “Bitch Mongrel” still have a fun sneer to them while “Poison Trash” dares to reach the speeds seen on No Mercy for Mayhem.
Overall, Midnight’s third album sees the band staying fresh by incorporating more variety into their savage presentation. Despite a noticeable focus on slower tempos, it remains as concise as ever and responds to any sellouts accusations with a punch in the face that’s just as lethal as the ones that came before it. If you’re a fan of Venom or Saxon that still hasn’t seen the Satanic Royalty at work, I’d definitely give this one a listen.
“Crushed by Demons”
“Here Comes Sweet Death”
“Before My Time in Hell”
I went to Ball State University and graduated with a BA in Creative Writing. Currently specializing in writing album reviews when I should be working at my day job.
My Grading Scale
A: An essential classic regardless of genre preference
B: A good album recommended to fans of a given genre
C: A flawed album with elements that are still enjoyable
D: A dull album that may only be redeemable for fans
F: It is a goal of mine to never review an album like this
I also play in a couple different bands and take it as much as I dish it out. Feel free to check them out!