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Midnight Chaser - "Rough And Tough" (CD)

Midnight Chaser - "Rough And Tough" CD cover image

"Rough And Tough" track listing:

1. Awesome Party
2. Out On Your Shield
3. Rough And Tough
4. Swords For Hire
5. Cougar'd
6. Hotshot
7. Dynamite
8. Earthquake
9. Who Dares Wins

Reviewed by on July 7, 2012

"Instrumentally, Midnight Chaser gets the classic metal vibe going fairly strong on 'Rough And Tough,' but bland vocal delivery and silly lyrics rob the album of some of its power."

You can't fault the guys in Midnight Chaser for picking one of the greatest eras in heavy metal history — that period as the '70s bled into the '80s when Sabbath sludge started giving way to something speedier and often sillier (and I mean that in a good way) — to pattern their music after. On the instrumental front, the band does a solid job of emulating the period. It's the vocals and lyrics that make "Rough And Tough" feel more than a little lightweight.

True to the classic metal genre, songs about getting laid (the May-December cat scratch fever of "Cougar'd") exist right alongside medieval-tinged tales of heroism ("Swords For Hire" and "Out On Your Shield"), without either seeming too out-of-place. Just about the only thing missing here is a power ballad.

Guitarist Stephen Lauck delivers the best performance here, with the riffs on "Earthquake" and "Awesome Party" working especially well. He also delivers some serviceable solos throughout, with real barnburners on "Out On Your Shield" and "Dynamite." Kudos also to drummer Brandon Thomas for his true-to-the-genre cowbell blitz on "Cougar'd." Bassist Josh Hunt has an excellent, if brief, showcase in the middle of "Rough And Tough" that's well worth hearing.

Unfortunately, some of that gets undone by Scott Attwood's rather bland vocal delivery. He's a decent singer, but he delivers little in the way of emotion, making songs like "Rough And Tough" (with its references to a "stack of pornos and dried out grass" and a "first taste of sin/neighbor girl and a bottle of gin") feel anything but.

That's not helped by a hefty heaping of dopey lyrics, especially in the goofy opener, "Awesome Party," in which Attwood sings about how he "really needs to cut loose" because "it's been a rough week." "Earthquake" also has more than its share of groaners, with the line "earthquake, hits hard and makes your world shake" feeling especially goofy.

Instrumentally, Midnight Chaser gets the classic metal vibe going fairly strong on "Rough And Tough," but bland vocal delivery and silly lyrics rob the album of some of its power. Still, fans of the late '70s and early '80s will likely find something to enjoy.

Highs: Riffs on "Earthquake," the drumming on "Cougar'd."

Lows: Bland vocals throughout

Bottom line: The band gets much of the classic metal style right, but the vocals are on the bland side and the lyrics could've used a rewrite.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)