Friday, March 22, 2013

Midnite Hellion - Enter the Unknown

Midnite Hellion are a talented band that clearly worship Iron Maiden but haven't yet found a vocalist who can pull it off. These are some catchy, memorable songs, there's no doubt that "1903" pops into my head more often than any other recent retro heavy metal bands, but it's a lot better when I imagine Bruce Dickinson singing it. The instrumentalists in the band interact well, they write very strong, cohesive, and memorable songs, but they also play a style that relies heavily on the lead vocalist. Much like Iron Maiden stood out due to their exceptional and distinctive vocalist, Midnite Hellion are confined by their lack of that type of vocalist. Don't let that put you off the band though, the music is quite interesting, strong enough that I'm looking forward to the band's future after two good four-track releases, each featuring an underwhelming vocalist.

The production on this EP is quite restrained, it sounds like it could have come out of the early 80s, it's not dull, but it doesn't place a ton of emphasis on distortion and impact - it's sort of like early Iron Maiden and it fits their style quite well. A bit more impact could complement their style, but when they're playing like it's 30 years ago, they nail the sound like it's 30 years ago. The guitar tone isn't too sharp, it has a bit of crunch and bite, not a ton. The drums sound good but not overdone nor fake/triggered, which is nice too. At first I thought the production was too thin, it's not too good to listen to on treble-heavy speakers, but it sounds good on a decent set of speakers/headphones.

The bottom line is that this is some very memorable melodic heavy metal that's better than most of the retro stuff recently. It feels more authentic, they carry the spirit and feeling of older heavy metal well, without the disruption of trying to thicken it up, make it heavier, or make it a modern take. It's enjoyable to listen to, but the way they play leaves a desire for a vocalist that has the same energy and intensity that the band does. Check this one out and look for their next release as they have already parted ways with this vocalist - third time's the charm, right?

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