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Midnight - "Satanic Royalty" (CD)

Midnight - "Satanic Royalty" CD cover image

"Satanic Royalty" track listing:

1. Satanic Royalty
2. You Can't Stop Steel
3. Rip This Hell
4. Necromania
5. Black Damnation
6. Lust Filth And Sleaze
7. Violence On Violence
8. Savage Dominance
9. Holocaustic Deafening
10. Shock Til Blood

Reviewed by on October 15, 2011

"'Satanic Royalty' is one of those albums that are increasingly hard to find these days, as listeners can both sing and bang their heads."

Ohio black thrashers Midnight has eight years of small records, EPs, compilations and singles. “Satanic Royalty,” released through Hells Headbangers, is the group’s first full-length recording. The ten songs that comprise the track listing result in the short playing time of less than half-an-hour. Each track doesn’t move at the barn-burning speed of Slayer’s “Reign in Blood,” which should be in the dictionary for short, thrash albums. The leather-and-bullets attack of Athenar is simple and to the point. There are few brief instrumental jams—just straightforward verse and chorus.

“Satanic Royalty” is a nod in the direction of black metal’s blasphemous first wave. When NWOBHM joined speed metal, the unholy matrimony produced bands like Slayer, Bulldozer and Celtic Frost. Of course, many tracks resemble the forerunners to the above bands—Motorhead and Venom. “Necromania” features the mid-paced punch of Celtic Frost and Darkthrone. Functioning on a single guitar riff, the placement of vocals, drums and bass introduce variation. This riff and the accompanying chorus lines are so damn catchy that “Necromania” never becomes boring.

“Black Damnation” shows the group following Celtic Frost’s metallurgic formula. While producing more notes than some of their doomed catalog, “Black Damnation” has that slow, warped vibe associated with Tom G. and the boys. It’s like hearing a Motorhead record played at 33 RPMs. The bluesy, Mercyful Fate-type opening chords issue a good contrast to the barbaric, strumming rhythms that define the song. “Shock ‘Til Blood” and “Lust Filth and Sleaze” perfectly capture the spirit of Motorhead, which one would expect just by the title of the latter track. A bass solo sets a trail for the booze-fueled punk rock direction that defines “Holocaustic Deafening.” Fist-pumping NWOBHM addicts will drool “Venom” upon hearing “Rip This Hell.”

“Satanic Royalty” finds a good balance in being extreme, but not to the point of sounding shitty. The album has strong production values, bereft of the sterile, digital sound that characterizes much of today’s metal, but it lacks impurities such as the white noise heard on cassette tapes. Athenar has an aggressive vocal style, but one can distinguish every word he shouts. “Satanic Royalty” is one of those albums that are increasingly hard to find these days, as listeners can both sing and bang their heads. The only issue with this album is the length. The group could have added more solos and riffs as well.

Highs: "Satanic Royalty" contains plenty of air-punching, head-banging riffs and memorable vocal lines.

Lows: The album is quite short, less than a half-hour.

Bottom line: "Satanic Royalty" is a strong speed/black metal album, and length is its only negative feature.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)