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SPIN Essentials

Hell? Yes! Midnight’s ‘No Mercy for Mayhem’ Is Majestically Satanic

SPIN Rating: 9 of 10
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Label: Hells Headbangers

Midnight is one of the best metal bands going, period. Whether you’re a sucker for the classics, partial to dirty old punk rock, or hooked on speed metal, this Cleveland institution delivers what you need in near-lethal doses and has a hell of a good time doing it. It may have taken them eight years to deliver a proper full-length and three more to record its follow-up, but thankfully No Mercy for Mayhem spells relief for those who got hooked on 2011’s Satanic Royalty and haven’t been lucky enough to see one of Midnight’s raucous blood-on-black-leather live gigs.

This sophomore LP captures the manic intensity of their live shows without sacrificing sound quality, serving up 10 satisfying new songs, plus a bonus track on the CD version culled from the tsunami benefit split they recorded with Japan’s Abigail. Sole studio musician Athenar’s songwriting chops continue to impress and improve as he busies himself stealthily crafting diabolically catchy melodies that fit right in alongside the classics he so clearly worships: Venom, Mötorhead, Bathory, Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy. Midnight glorifies the violent Satanic sleaze of old via the most traditional methods. “Penetratal Curse” opens the album with a clean-picked melodic intro in classic heavy metal fashion, and speed metal solos and rollicking heavy metal riffs balance out straightforward punk beats and buzzy bass topped by Athenar’s scratchy howl and lusty lyrics. Midnight has slowed down a bit since the earlier days, with most of the album settling into a strong midtempo groove that accentuates highlights like the standout guitar work on “Woman of Flame,” the punchy drums on “Whiplash Disaster,” or the measured march of title track “No Mercy for Mayhem.” Quick rippers like the ballsy “Evil Like A Knife” and “Try Suicide” bump up the energy, but Midnight hits hardest when they take their time.

The production on this baby is raw just enough to feel nasty but you can tell there was thought put into it. Athenar knows what he’s doing. Early records from bands like Venom and Mötorhead sounded sloppy because they were, but Midnight sound raw and a little crude because they want to. It’s one of the reasons that the band is so damn appealing; you can tell that they’re talented enough to play technical or progressive stuff, but would rather just write badass heavy metal tunes. When all’s said and done, No Mercy for Mayhem is a headbanger’s dream and one of the best metal (or otherwise) albums of the year. All hail hell!