Midnight (US) - Sweet Death and Ecstasy
Hells Headbangers
Blackened Speed Metal
Disc 1: 8 songs (32' 2") Disc 2: 12 songs (40' 13")
Release year: 2017
Midnight, Hells Headbangers
Reviewed by Andy

With Sweet Death and Ecstasy, Midnight returns to LP territory after last year's excellent EP-and-everything-else compilation. This one slows the pace a little on a few songs, which may take some fans aback; after all, Midnight is best at its harshest and briefest, and it would seem that a -- gasp -- six-minute song would start getting repetitive. And so it is. Fortunately, Athenar combines his experiments in slower and longer songs with his usual addictive blackened-crust songs, which are as good as ever.

While the first influences that spring to mind when listening to Midnight are Bathory and Venom, Shox of Violence's covers proved that Athenar is equally influenced by early-80s NWOBHM, and on this album, it shows in the riffs. Rabid! could be an early Iron Maiden song if it had more complexity, and Bitch Mongrel sounds like the work of that band's endless 80s speed-metal progeny. Midnight's in-your-face sleaze is slightly toned down, though, despite the welcome presence of Penetratal Ecstasy and Poison Trash. It's not like Athenar has given up headbangability, or singing about hellish lust and perversion -- the whole album's swimming in it. What is it about Sweet Death and Ecstasy that makes it tamer than its predecessors?

I rather suspect the NWOBHM references in particular, and the band's experiments on this album in general, as the source of this. It can't be fun to get typecast into a particular song style, so I can understand Athenar's need to branch out. But what he's trying has a greater complexity to it which takes a bit of the raw fire and mindless fun out of Midnight. Before My Time in Hell underscores the band's need to go somewhere else, by following a slower, more epic version of their thrashing sound much in the way Hammerheart-era Bathory did, a one-man band that also changed its style drastically for several albums in a quest to reinvent itself. Athenar hasn't taken any such steps, but a few of the tracks on here leave the listener wondering what's next, and if he's starting to get tired of writing filthy songs blasted to a d-beat.

He's still a superb songwriter, though, and Sweet Death and Ecstasy is still a very good album, even if I don't feel like it's the equal of No Mercy For Mayhem. In true Midnight style, the buyer of the album is presented with another twelve tracks, in the form of a band rehearsal. Even if the direction on this album is a bit cloudy, there are still a pile of songs available here for one to go back and relive the band's checkered past.

Bandcamp: https://midnight-ohio.bandcamp.com/album/sweet-death-and-ecstasy.

Killing Songs :
Penetratal Ecstasy, Rabid!
Andy quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Midnight (US) that we have reviewed:
Midnight (US) - Shox of Violence reviewed by Andy and quoted no quote
Midnight (US) - No Mercy For Mayhem reviewed by Andy and quoted 81 / 100
Midnight (US) - Complete and Total Hell reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
Midnight (US) - Satanic Royalty reviewed by Charles and quoted 85 / 100
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