Time for a night of lust, filth, speed and sleaze and it is finally here, the return of Midnight, back in the UK for the second time and the first since Live Evil Festival back in 2012. They have tried to come back here but it never happened, that show was meant to be at The Black Heart which would have been really up close and personal but tonight it is at the much bigger Dome in Tufnell Park fresh from playing Roadburn Festival the night before

First it is the turn of 3 supports and they are all UK based. The first couple are from Manchester and although only at the demo, EP stage recording wise their music is very much rooted in the speed metal stakes of yesteryear. Heavy Sentence fire out the traps to the rapidly filling up venue, full of galloping bravado and mean chops. Are they evil, yes they probably are, their frontman cool as fuck sporting shades and coarsely growling his way through songs like opener ‘Protector’ with whisky soaked breath. ‘Age Of Fire’ is the sort of title that yells “classic” at you and sure enough it is rooted in traditional NWOBHM sound as it at first slows down the tempo before upping the game and exploding into hefty head-banging motion. Those down the front are more than keen to do just that, jigging around and blowing off the end of week cobwebs. The melodicism is strong and gets blood pressure and fists raised and pumped and it was obvious this was going to be a night for raising hell and drinking the bar dry in the process. None of the supports have time to outstay welcome just getting a half hour set which in the case of Heavy Sentence flew by, over far too quickly. This was an invigorating display and I am guessing by now they are with some of the songs being unreleased so far, soon to drop a debut album.

Possibly so too are Aggressive Perfector, who you no doubt immediately noted take their name from a Slayer classic. Led by General Holocausto they also share drummer with Heavy Sentence so he had hardly had time for much of a breather before firing up the kit once more. Satan’s Heavy Metal is the name of their game and they cast horns to the diabolic one with a thrashy and somewhat punk laden tumult; there’s also a bit of a crossover vibe about things that harks back to the glory days of bands such as D.R.I. Bathed in slimy green which gave them a suitably toxic low their infernal raids went down well, drummer Intimidator giving the battering ram a particularly hefty workout. They wanted a circle pit but were denied, the audience maybe saving themselves till later or more content to stand wrecking necks and downing beer. This was nothing new but I doubt anyone was expecting wheel reinventions tonight and the band were enthusiastic, hitting a groove and getting us moving along with it.

Hellripper from Scotland is principally the act of James McBain and a solo studio proposition. He has released a fair bit of material including many a split, a compilation and debut album ‘Coagulating Darkness’ Obviously expanding things with extra players on stage the band are quick to rip into hell, the first thing that particularly struck was the meaty, thick scuzzy bass sound, standing near the player and speaker it gave up a nasty cutting edge. Songs come quick and fast with a bit of chaos and feedback between numbers, this had a very fast flowing DIY like sound and approach and it was nigh impossible not to get swept up and caught along with it all. It’s basic, primal and energetically focused hitting a bit like a hammer round the head and succeeding in getting the first bit of proper movement on the dancefloor. Short savage blasts like ‘From Hell’ delivered just what they suggested and what was necessary, nice and gnarly and whatever the new EP number was towards the end it went down well and left us in a bit of a mess; job done.

Well you simply can’t stop steel or indeed Black Rock n’ Roll and having already filled the quota of slotting song titles into the review it is time for Midnight. There’s no shortage of songs to get us all fired up either, the Cleveland based lot under the sole guise of shredder Athenar have a huge plethora of releases and he too has been in many other outfits before going for world domination in this one. He is joined on stage by a guitarist and drummer of course, possibly SS and Commander Vanik but as the men are naturally masked who can be 100% certain on that. One thing is for sure the Guitarist is a blur of energy and prone to dart around the stage and eve make the odd star shaped jump while slinging his axe and despite the room on the stage the trio make pretty damn good use of it. It’s evil by both name and nature and great to bang head to and simply flow on the fast flurrying energy of these Satanic royalists in full flow. Although it has been a while since last seeing them the songs and album tracks are instantly recognisable and as comfortable to get into as a prowling leather clad killer embarking on the first rape of the night. Where Athenor gets his ideas from is subject to confirmation possibly all the foulest things you can imagine and a good dose of serial killer study along with 70’s grindhouse roughies. Things are not always politically correct for sure but the boys and girls paying worship here care not one jot about such things.

It all sounds good and scuzzy flying out the speakers, a certain uncouth charm and a black punk attitude makes it all spot on and just the way we like it baby. The pit fires itself up after a while and there are even a few hardy stage dive attempts. Perhaps this was somewhat brave as the vocalist seems like he would be quite happy to whip his bullet belt off as it hangs over his bare torso and help you on the way but everyone who gets up seems to come out unscathed. Some songs simply have to be played. The double whammy of ‘Satanic Royalty’ and  ‘Lust Filth and Sleaze’ being a particularly potent pairing and providing a devilish stomp. A brief dousing in beer experience refreshes other parts and allows observing the audience pumping fists in the air and totally enjoying themselves down the front. I think we get just over an hour, there’s no real talking from the stage between songs but we guess the men behind the masks are enjoying themselves as much as we are, it’s hard to tell with faces covered. One late highlight is the blast of Necromania and it’s probably fair to say they pretty much played everything we could really have asked for. Hell has been well and truly ripped and all the bands were great, cut from the same sorta cloth giving us a memorable night out. Hopefully the headliners won’t be so long in coming back next time around.

(Pete Woods)