Monday, April 25, 2011

Midnight Chaser - Midnight Chaser

What do you get when you combine Budgie and Diamond Head with a bit of freewheeling attitude and baste it in a concoction of badassery? If you answered Midnight Chaser, you already have your finger on what may turn out to be one of the better vintage sounding metal bands out there. Midnight Chaser skirt the razors of edge of being hard rock, but do so genuinely enough to capture the raw essence of what metal was in 1978. Unlike other bands attempting vintage sounding metal like Swedes Enforcer which I sometimes feel play the part like an actor or Wolf who have taken a path towards mediocrity with their last album Ravenous (I still love their first four records), Midnight Chaser take a different approach to old school aiming not for the Vintage sound of traditional metal but seek a trajectory towards proto-metal which can only be accomplished by a group of individuals who really have never left their teen-years for the more extreme metal corruption of the mid-late 80's.

So this self titled EP has gotten quite a few spins from me, contains killer tracks across the whole record and an excellent sense of pride. It reeks of a lack of interest in trends, while somehow falling into the movement towards the old school metal that's been erupting out of every garage across America and Europe. I think the most interesting facet, and the strongest attribute of Midnight Chaser is how dead-set on excellence their songwriting aims to be. Even "Out On Your Shield" which is my least favorite track because of the undeniably lame intro riff, is still well written. The band is humbling, everyone shines, is never overshadowed or overbearing. The band sounds like they are rocking together, slamming their bodies around a shaking rehearsal room, too loud for human ears, with all their friends slamming down PBR's and headbanging for no other reason than having a good time. It's that kind of a record.

Quick reconnaissance reveals a four man lineup fronted by Scott Attwood on vocals who sounds a lot like Sean Harris from the aforementioned Diamond Head. The same shouting, wooing, classic rock influenced vocal approach is Attwood's calling card as evidenced on opening track "Rough and Tough," which wouldn't sound out of place on Lightning to The Nations. He hits some decent highs across the disc, such as in "Down For Whatever." The rhythm section on the EP is tight, with Josh Hunt on bass and Brandon Thomas on drums. Nothing spectacular to mention. Stephan Lauck is the sole guitarist in the band and I can't help but feel that a second guitarist would really help strengthen the band sound-wise but as it stands, Stephen's got things under control in the guitarist situation. On this record, the solos are well written and performed but tend to be thin, with Lauck accompanied by only Hunt. It definitely adds to the sense of being a live recording but I hope on their upcoming full length, they dub some guitars under the leads.

The disc opens with "Rough and Tough," a straightforward rocker with a catchy main riff (in G minor I believe). Attwood's Sean Harris style vocals are most evident here though they show across the whole EP. "Out On Your Shield," is a bit a sleeper for me until the solo kicks in, but never really catches my attention. It just seems a bit... lazy. Luckily, it's followed by Tank cover "Turn Your Head Around," the albums fastest. The opening riff is a sleazy, slippery thing that belongs in a seedy bar with scantily dressed women looking for a interesting night. This is one song where the solo is backed by guitars as well as bass, and thankfully so - it keeps the track rocking from beginning to end. Maybe a bit heavy on the chorus near the end but I'll let it pass because I could listen to this one all day. "Down for Whatever" and "Too Wild to Tame" round out the record in an acceptable fashion with two more ballsy tracks. "Down For Whatever" reminds me of some of CKY's more gritty tracks but with an extended instrumental section that might be at home on Fireball Ministry's first record. Fun unabashed lyrics telling it like it is becomes the thematic premise behind pretty much every song on the disc and "Too Wild To Tame" is no different. "Too Wild To Tame" is a quick closer to the EP.

Midnight Chaser have a lot going for them. I look forward to the full length which, according to their Myspace, is out this spring sometime. We'll see. I'll be picking it up and if they've got the same attitude, energy and songwriting prowess evidenced on this EP, I'm sure I'll be giving it plenty of turntable time. Be sure to check them out live if you're out west in the California area - I have a hunch they know how to get a place in a frenzy.

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