MidnightEMidnight Eternal have certainly been racking up the support slots in their native America, copping guest appearances for Kamelot, Sonata Arctica, Delain, Xandria, Doro and many more! And now that they’ve finally got their chance to release a full-length album they can prove to the world that they are worth the attention.

They initially remind me of Krypteria (particularly in the tone of vocalist Raine Hilai’s voice), with touches of Lunatica, Delain and Sonata Arctica. They inhabit the speedier end of the Symphonic Metal spectrum, nudging into Power Metal occasionally and displaying occasional glimpses of a Symphony X type progressive nature. Four tracks of up-tempo (to varying degrees), double-kick flailing power trips kick the album off, with the fourth exploring the speediest/thrashiest elements on the whole album driven onward by the lightning drumming. Each is full to bursting with plenty of time-changes, intricate guitar, neo-classical tinged keys and effervescent vocal lines.

Fifth track ‘The Lantern’ is a brief respite, being a dual male/female vocal ballad-type track with acoustic guitars scattered all over it. Quickly, ‘Believe In Forever’ follows in it’s wake – a sub-three minute number that has the commercial leanings of a single with it’s memorable chorus and melodic lead-work. However we are back in familiar Symphonic Power Metal territory for the next three tracks (‘Midnight Eternal’ itself echoes elements of Nightwish, ‘When Love and Faith Collide’ is a good example of the Delain quality I mentioned earlier, and ‘Like an Eternity’ has those progressive AND neo-classical touches in the music coupled with that now familiar Krypteria type vocal style). Not sure I like the 80’s AOR intro or overall feel to ‘Silence’, but that’s just personal taste and is soon forgotten once engrossed in the 9 minute epic closing track.

This is a damn fine debut, one that many bands would have been proud to call their own. I’m not sure Midnight Eternal have quite found their particular niche yet though. It’s a debut – they have a point to prove, and they are quite keen to prove that they have all the Symphonic Metal bases covered, but because there seems to be a lot of styles in evidence, it’s also as if the band are hedging their bets a little. I’m sure album number two will see them hone their direction a little more as their unit tours this material, sees what works live, what doesn’t, and in the end which tracks they still enjoy playing more than others. It’s a fabulous journey this talented band are embarking on and I look forward to hearing much more from them.

(7/10  Andy Barker)