MIDNIGHT BULLET, Faraday Cage (2012, Inverse)
I’m not sure the skull would make a very effective shield for electric fields, but what the hell, if you’re going to give your album a title as stupidly specific as Faraday Cage, why not have some fun with it? Then again, why is the lightning coming from the skull? Shouldn’t the skull be absorbing it, or deflecting it, or something? Far be it for me, though, to suggest that Midnight Bullet don’t understand the electromagnetic principles they’re invoking; I’m sure they’re all PhD physicists in their day jobs.
For obvious reasons, I expected very little from Midnight Bullet, but I almost immediately enjoyed them and by the time I had finished the album, I was looking for a way to buy it. They’re not doing anything especially clever, but they remind me of a bunch of bands I really like, and they mash up those (apparent) influences in a pleasing way. Most obviously, it sounds like Midnight Bullet formed to relive the exciting sounds of 1996, as they more or less sound like a mix of Rage’s poppy, post-Manni, pre-Victor albums, and the similarly poppy first few Sentenced albums featuring Ville Laihiala (Down and Frozen specifically). But as much as those two bands, Midnight Bullet sounds to me like my beloved Jester’s Funeral, particularly the last two albums, which make good on what little promise Metallica’s black album offered. There’s no easy genre tag to describe something like this, even though this is not a band I’d call “sui generis,” and any synthetic label, like “Heavy Pop Death Rock,” is going to make the band sound awful, but believe me when I say that Midnight Bullet makes some very catchy music that manages to be heavy and toe-tapping at the same time. And they do it with that inexplicable Finnish polish that mysteriously makes every band from that nation sound like seasoned veterans, even if they’ve only been together for a year. And though when the album started I was ready to criticize vocalist Tuomas Lahti for his lack of range and the general inappropriateness of his deathy voice, by the end I was converted, as he reveals more and more of his abilities as the album progresses (which is necessarily to say that he does sell himself short in the early songs.) This is a fun and worthwhile album for anyone who likes any of the bands I’ve mentioned, and with a second album coming soon, I’m expecting more good things from these badly named Finns.
— Friar Johnsen