Midnight / Hellish Expectations, Adding Exhilaration In Your Life

If you need a bit of exhilaration in your life, then Hellish Expectations, the sixth studio full-length from the Cleveland one-man Black/Speed Metal outfit Midnight, might just meet that remit for you. It has certainly done for me.

Midnight – Hellish Expectations (Metal Blade Records)

Release Date: 8 March 2024

Words: Jools Green

Hellish Expectations, masterminded by Athenar, is a ten-track, twenty-five-minute slab of lust, filth and blasphemy. “It’s a knuckle dragger with a fat cutoff,” Athenar told us. “Pure testosterone meat. Probably the most concise and straight to the point Midnight album to date, and all written in a weekend.

“The album was written on pure reaction upon leaving the studio after listening to raw tracks from the previous album Let There Be Witchery. The final mix of that album was good, but at the time of laying it down in the studio, I didn’t like what I was hearing and demanded a new leviathan of an album to be written that weekend.”

You can definitely feel that manic buzz that emanated from him as he created this latest Midnight beast of an album.

Hellish Expectations gets straight to the point. Opening on Expect Total Hell, which emerges at a driving gallop, delivering searing riffs, raw screams and acerbic vitriolic vocals as it opens. But there’s also a really engaging melodic undercurrent, and the leadwork is insanely good, too.

This is rapidly followed by the punky and angry Gash Scrape, which continues the driving onslaught. There’s an excellent depth and texture to the guitars in the more complex parts of this track.

Masked And Deadly has another great melodic undercurrent beneath that ever-present, unrelenting d-beat-rich drive. Lyrically, it’s also hugely catchy, “masked and deadly, none will survive; in the heat of hell, you will fry!”

Definitely a track to sing along to with a wry smile on your face. Let’s not forget the squealing leadwork, which is none too shabby, either. The next offering, Slave Of The Blade, has a hugely addictive repeat that courses its length with low and sleazy, groovy second-half leadwork alongside the usual searing leadwork.

Attacking from a slightly different angle, Dungeon Lust has an alluring dark quality to the riffing and vocal delivery and, all importantly, a hugely addictive melody-tinged undercurrent.

Nuclear Savior takes a darkly humorous look at the demise of humans from nuclear destruction. It is a viciously driving but hugely catchy beast of a track, with a searing midpoint shred just to elevate the track further.

Deliver Us to Devil has a lovely hardcore Punk drive and is another unstoppable beast with sharp blasts of searing midpoint leadwork.

Athenar proves he has still got plenty of surprises up his sleeve with Mercyless Slaughtor, as the pace shifts down dramatically, delivering a superbly dark and heavy Black’n’Roll vibe from the bass lines, which gives a hugely addictive groove to the sound. If I was forced to pick a favourite, it would probably be this one. The vocals are delivered with bags of vitriol, and the piercing leadwork adds even more dimension to the already rich, full sound.

A pounding d-beat dominates the straightforward Doom Death Desire, broken up nicely with the blistering swathe of second-half leadwork.

The final offering, F.O.A.L., looks at the expression F.O.A.D. from a different angle. Maybe death is too good for them. Maybe they should live and suffer? As Athenar says in the opening lines, “Why would I want you to die? So you could be free? Don’t want to see you in hell. Not next to me.”

A pretty valid argument, to be fair. Sound-wise, it delivers the goods, too, with the blistering leadwork that opens, returning regularly between the lyrics to give a very up-tempo, exhilarating edge to the track.

Six albums in (plus a myriad of assorted EP’s) and Athenar has a clearcut idea of exactly what he wants from his music in terms of sound content and energy.

In some respects, I can see how he may have felt initially a little disappointed regarding Let There Be Witchery. Although I thought it was a good album, and I did enjoy it a lot, it didn’t have quite the same fierce spark as Rebirth By Blasphemy, with which he had set his own personal bar very high.

I think he has definitely rekindled it with Hellish Expectations. It is an exhilarating and fun listen from end to end.

Sleeve Notes

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