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Midnight Sun - Metal Machine (7,5/10) - Sweden - 2001

Genre: Power Metal
Label: LMP
Playing time: 45:57
Band homepage: Midnight Sun

Tracklist:

  1. Metal Gods
  2. Dungeons Of Steel
  3. Temple Of The Graal
  4. Steel To Steel
  5. Metal Machine
  6. Fight
  7. Distorted Eyes
  8. Your Blood Burns In Hell
  9. Keeper Of The Gate
  10. Metal Will Stand Tall
Midnight Sun - Metal Machine

Somewhere back in the massive library of Limb Music’s moderately successful yet now defunct outfits lay the works of MIDNIGHT SUN, one of the earlier projects of the now somewhat infamous axe man Magnus Karlsson. For those not familiar with him, he is seen by some as being at the forefront of today’s lower grade, AOR brand of Power Metal, mostly through his collaboration with ALLEN/LANDE and his latest project THE CODEX. Where this project differs from those more recent endeavors is that this sounds more like Metal than it does Hard Rock with some Metal elements.

 

Their last release before calling it quits, “Metal Machine”, sports an album cover that comes across as an outtake from “The Road Warrior”, but the actual sound is pretty well in line with the JUDAS PRIEST emulations that were really popular amongst German bands in the late 90s. Lyrical subjects often parallel those Metal glorification odes that are commonly found on METALIUM and DREAM EVIL albums, but the music has more in common with bands such as AT VANCE, THE STORYTELLER and earlier HAMMERFALL. The songs are mostly shorter in length and painted with a small amount of Progressive Rock influences, solos are flashy but a little more strictly structured than what Olaf Lenk normally puts forth, and the choruses are the principle focus throughout.

 

For the most part, the primary strengths in this release lay in the vocal performance of Jacob Samuels and Magnus Karlsson, who takes most of his cues from the MALMSTEEN school of lead playing. Although he doesn’t fly quite as fast as Dushan Petrossi or put out solos quite as memorable as Olaf Lenk, he’s reasonably good at what he does and definitely puts some intricate detailing on what is a pretty bare approach. His riffing approach occasionally flirts with a sort of Groove based style, relying on fairly repetitive and simple ideas that tend to bolster the entire arrangement rather than leading it the way most bands influenced by HELLOWEEN or JUDAS PRIEST would, but it’s not quite as dull and plain as what he’s been doing lately. Samuels tends to be the real attraction with his high and slightly jagged vocalizations, almost sounding like a perfect hybrid of Oliver Hartmann’s attitude and brilliant harmonizing abilities, and Rob Halford’s high end majesty.

 

The only major flaw that keeps this from being as solid as AT VANCE’s material is that the guitar tracking sounds extremely dry and processed. It mostly sounds just a little too high end to really sound heavy when the palm muted chugging sections come in, almost like Magnus took the sound from AC/DC’S “Let There Be Rock” and ran it through a compressor while chopping off about 25% of the attack. It’s especially on “Metal Gods”, the title track, “Metal Machine”, and “Fight”, all of which are otherwise solid Metal songs cut from the “Screaming For Vengeance” JUDAS PRIEST model. When the riffs keep moving and you don’t either get a long held out power chord or a slower chugging riff it’s not that noticeable, but since a lot of this is mid-tempo it works pretty strongly against the rest of the arrangement.

 

In the end, whether you’d like this or not would depend largely on whether you like your Power Metal long and drawn out or short and to the point. In this case, you don’t get anything that even gets close to being Epic in scope. You’ve got some pretty solid sing along anthems in “Metal Gods” and “Keeper Of The Gate”, as well as some solid HAMMERFALL meets AT VANCE style Speed Metal in “Steel To Steel” and “Distorted Eyes”, but as a whole this is not quite as Metal of an experience as the album art would suggest. This is essentially DREAM EVIL before it was really popular to do this sort of music again, with a few more technical chops, a little more variety in the songwriting, and a better vocalist.

(Online December 15, 2008)

Jonathan Smith



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