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Album Review: MIDNIGHT No Mercy For Mayhem

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When discussions are had about hotbeds of heavy metal activity in the United States, it's safe to say that Ohio is never on the tip of anyone's tongue. The Buckeye State is responsible for birthing a number of notable bands and artists in the world of heavy music including Marilyn Manson, MushroomheadTrent ReznorSkeletonwitch, and Necrophagia, but Ohio never gets much love from the heavy metal community. No Mercy For Mayhem, the new album from Cleveland's Midnight, isn't likely to catapult the state onto anyone's radar, but fans of sleazy metal/punk in the vein of Venom and Motörhead are going to have a new favorite album on August 19th.

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Those of you reading this who aren't already familiar with Midnight should take note; if you're looking for the perfect soundtrack to accompany a methed up biker gang beating some hapless bystander to a pulp with chains and clubs, No Mercy For Mayhem is the album you need to get your grubby mitts on. Since 2003, Jamie Walters, working under the stage name Athenar, has been creating an infernal racket that's part Motörhead and part G.G. Allin. Midnight's early material is rough and rabid, but, by the time his 2011 debut LP Satanic Royalty was released on Hell's Headbangers Records, Athenar had all but perfected his signature brand of punky heavy metal. The songs on No Mercy For Mayhem are a continuation of the sound from that album, but they're even better than their predecessors.

One of Athenar's enduring strengths as a songwriter is his penchant for crafting catchy melodies, and this talent is on full display on No Mercy For Mayhem. Initially, it's easy to focus on the songs' nonsensical lyrics, but you'll quickly find that the chorus of "Aggressive Crucifixion" or "The Final Rape of Night" has burrowed into your brain and refuses to leave. Lazy listeners will write Midnight off as a gaggle of beer-swilling neanderthals, but metalheads with an ear for a well written tune will easily be able to cut through the abrasive veneer to find this album's melodic core.

It's not unreasonable to say that Midnight is destined to languish in obscurity. The style of music Athenar creates and the band's stage persona all but guarantees Midnight will remain the cultest of cult acts. But don't be frightened off by the simplicity and ugliness of the music, Athenar has an understanding of song composition that's shared by bands as disparate as The Ramones, The Beach Boys, and Motörhead. At the most basic level, all of these bands understand that good rock songs have to be memorable before anything else. They know that a memorable song effects listeners on a visceral level, and music doesn't get much more visceral than Midnight.

 

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