Grey marbled vinyl.
“Rebirth By Blasphemy’ is a rebirth,” states Midnight’s sole driving force, Athenar. “It’s a change in life and it’s a rebirth of doing whatever the fuck you want and seeing what happens after that. It’s about saying yes, taking opportunities, taking a fucking chance.” These sentiments are backed up by the notorious – and prolific – underground band’s trademark blend of speed metal, black metal and punk rock, sounding both fuller and more raucous than ever before. “Overall, I would say the sound is pretty vicious, vicious but I keep things hooky, and that’s what I like it to be. I want to still keep it raw but at the same time I wanted this record to be a little more hi-fi, which was my only plan when I started making it.”
Dating back to the band’s inception in 2002, vocalist/guitarist/bassist/drummer Athenar has always known exactly what he wanted Midnight to be, and over the course of countless demos, EPs, compilations, splits and three full-lengths he has stayed true to his roots. Building up a strong reputation and a rabid following in the underground, Midnight’s most recent opus, 2017’s Sweet Death And Ecstasy, stood as their most accomplished work to date. “Looking back on that record I think it’s a fantastic piece of work, really. It’s pretty varied, it has a nice bookend front and back song. I think the lyrics are thought provoking, and I think it’ll be a pretty important piece of work over time, up there with the Mona Lisa.” Making the jump to Metal Blade Records did not mean any change in the way Athenar went about making Midnight records. “I never really thought about writing a follow up to ‘Sweet Death’. If a song comes it comes and where it goes is wherever it goes, but nothing is ever really intended as ‘this song will be on the new album’.” There is also no denying that, like its predecessors, Rebirth By Blasphemy is a ruthlessly catchy collection, every song, vicious as they are, wielding the kind of hooks that sink deep and don’t let go, and this too came naturally. “There’s no real intent. I think a rock song in general should be catchy, so if someone thinks it’s catchy that’s a good thing. If they don’t think it’s catchy then they probably don’t have ears.” While the likes of opener “Fucking Speed And Darkness”, “Escape The Grave” and “Warning From The Reaper” are all d-beat-driven thrashers, they don’t lack when it comes to hooks, and “Rising Scum”, built on a titanic stomping beat, reins in the speed but is easily one of the standout tracks on the record, Athenar referring to it as being “quite 1979 Priest-like, just with its drum and vocal.”
When it came to penning lyrics for the record, Athenar’s perspective shifted over the course of the writing process. “I would say I started out in a very positive frame of mind. One of the first tunes written was ‘Escape The Grave’, and from there I went on the positive path – and then it turned negative by the end of the album. The title track is very negative lyrically, so I ended it again with complete and utter disgust for humans in general, but then you want that to come out of you. Just like you take a poop and you take a pee, you want the rotten shit to come out of your body, because if you keep the rotten shit in your body, it’ll rot you internally.” Handling every instrument himself and being quite unfussy when it comes to production typically means that the recording process is a straightforward one for Midnight, and this time was no different. Staying in his home town of Cleveland he opted to record at Mercenary Studios with the assistance of Noah Buchanan, laying the drums down in a day, the guitars in a little more than that, bass in a few hours and then tracking the vocals to two or three songs a day, depending on how his voice was holding up. “I think there’s really no production value on the album, it’s really just get in there, press record and see what happens. Maybe you can tell that the sessions went pretty quickly when you listen to it. There are so called mistakes, of course, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” He also wouldn’t have it any other way when it comes to touring this latest collection hard, with a lot of dates with a variety of bands already locked down. “It’s the rebirth, it’s saying fuck it and getting out there and doing what you’re supposed to do, and we’re supposed to play music. If people want to damage their ears by listening to it that’s welcomed.”
(Metal Blade Records)