With over 30 releases and literally hundreds of songs Athenar of Midnight is finally getting some sort of recognition at last. The plug in and play dynamic of the early days has of course expanded to include a live backing band and that has seen them getting over to Europe for gigs and festivals too including London for the second time last year. Metal Blade have sat up and taken notice and no doubt inked a contract in blood thus signing one of the best bands to their roster in absolute ages. Don’t expect this to go changing the modus-operandi of the group in the slightest though; nothing has changed and they certainly are not going to find themselves particularly thrust into the limelight. Forget polished productions Midnight are all about rawness and immediacy, simply firing out 10 bangers on Rebirth By Blasphemy and rattling the bones of the listener with lust, filth, sleaze and speed metal.

Although less colourful than the album art of last album Sweet Death And Ecstasy the picture is as reminiscent as the songs we have come to expect; the first of which ‘Fucking Speed and Darkness’ shows little tempering of the in your face titles and the first opening vokill vomit. Rattling out the traps the head will be forced into banging action at the start and unless it falls off won’t stop until the end of the 34 or so minutes. Punky swagger and grating quick-fire riffs are combined with a rough and throaty yell as the very gods of old-school metal are saluted. It might be extreme but the strong melodies and enthusiasm make up for any roughness around the edges, solos are fired out in abandon and you will be forced to submit and Accept! The sharpness of the songs with average 3 minutes running time makes this a furious listening experience. The title track has its one-line chorus yelled loud and proud along with some classic metal licks from the guitars; yep everything has been done by Athenor although it sounds like a whole band clamouring away and going hell for leather. Designed to be played live and invoke a near riot of flying beer and limbs each and every one of these tunes lodges in the head and makes you want to pogo. The crust and scum of numbers like ‘Escape The Grave’ rise to the top and are furious pounders and as for the ‘Devil’s Excrement’ take a deep breath, watch out for the guitar sirens and sniff the sulphur.

If you are not careful it will all pass in a blur but there’s a bit of a respite in the solo drum pound heralding ‘Rising Scum’ allowing you to “fornicate and consummate” whatever you are doing or whatever your partner will let you do to them… in a nice and sleazy fashion of course. Naturally it’s not that long for the spunky eruption of ‘Warning from the Reaper’ which should be enough to have fans of everything from Priest, to Venom, to Nifelheim and your favourite obscure Canadian band flocking to the yard. It’s all good but the classic tropes of ‘Cursed Possessions’ sticks out like a jagged pointed spike and completely skewers you on its hooks. ‘The Sounds Of Hell’ injects a maddening honky-tonk piano dervish into things and would go down brilliantly in a bar as a fight breaks out and furniture is busted over heads.

Completely invigorating this is just what I needed short of being ‘Dragged Through Fire’ you probably do too but be warned it’s gonna leave scorch marks on yer ass!

(8/10 Pete Woods)