It’s so hard to find a metal show frequented by actual metal people in New York City. Leave it to a venue like The Acheron to scare all the hipsters away – it’s cramped, smells like stale beer and sweat, and is the perfect venue for heavy metal and hardcore. The venue’s paid host to several modern forces in the underground like sludgemongers The Body and hardcore throatrippers All Pigs Must Die, but them booking Midnight was a match made in Hell. Although they had been releasing various EPs and splits since 2003 (collected on the compilation Complete And Total Fucking Midnight), it wasn’t until last year that their full-length LP Satanic Royalty was finally unleashed. Midnight have been trafficking in a classic mix of black and speed metal for the past nine years, calling to mind the classic output of Venom and Motorhead with a blackened and sex-crazed twist best suited to sweaty basements and BDSM dungeons. Since Satanic Royalty had been in rotation for a good while on my end, I quickly jumped at the chance to catch the band in a live setting and see how well the anthems and driving riffs would hold up.
I arrived late to the show and unfortunately missed Trenchgrinder, which was a real shame since their old-school and crusty treatment of death metal is such a fantastic alternative to the infestation of soulless tech-wank that’s plagued the death metal scene for so long. If you prize riffs over musicianship (as every Satan-fearing metalhead should), give them a look post-haste. When I made it to the venue, crossover thrashers Parasytic from Richmond, VA were already in the middle of their supercharged set. The high levels of energy definitely had everyone in a thrashy, moshy, and beer-chugging mood – this was going to be a good show indeed. Villains mounted the stage next, warming everyone up with their own take on a first-wave black metal sound and leaving us eager for things to come. Their riffs and energy were solid, and, well, you just have to love a band that names one of their songs “Never Abandon The Slut Train.”
While the studio versions of songs on Satanic Royalty and Complete And Total Fucking Midnight are more than likely to start a pit among listeners, Midnight is a band that absolutely demands that one experience them live. Frontman Athenar and his two compatriots donned black hoods and masks, which managed to fit perfectly with their shirtlessness. Along with various crowdsurfers, two enormous crosses were thrust into the arms of the wild crowd, who absolutely refused to bear them right-side-up. The pit grew to include almost the entire crowd, as all were driven to rock out and shout along to the choruses of facerippers like “You Can’t Stop Steel” or “Lust, Filth and Sleaze” to the point where the vocals were almost completely inaudible. The amount of exuberance shown by the band was reproduced by the audience, whose energy would in turn influence the band to perform with even more of a charismatic flair and spur the audience on to greater feats of voluntary life endangerment – the energy kept being bounced back and forth, until Athenar lit something on fire in the middle of the pit at the end of the show – I want to believe it was one of the crosses, but it was too crowded to be sure. Either way, something being set on fire is probably the clearest barometer that your performance was an undeniable success.
So yeah, go see Midnight fucking immediately if they ever swing by your hood. Even if first-wave black metal revival and relentless speed metal isn’t your thing, you’re guaranteed a damn good time. Just try not to get yourself set on fire.