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Bring the leather to a shine - 75%

autothrall, April 25th, 2010

Midnight Idöls are another case where you've got a few ex-member of 80s thrash metal bands that have created a new entity to reach even further into the past. Guitarist Russ 'Rizzle' was once a member of Washington State thrashers Bitter End who released a decent album in Harsh Realities (1990), and vocalist Diamond C Trenton once fronted the Californian maniacs Holy Terror. Sworn to the Night is the 3rd album from this outfit, and their sound successful evokes 80s nostalgia. There is an Iron Maiden base in the writing, through the melodic guitar playing and chord created atmosphere, but I am more closely reminded of old Virgin Steele or Manowar, perhaps some Riot and Omen thrown in there.

If that sounds good...well, it is good. But poseurs need not apply, because this is really dark and old school metal that will appeal more to those with an unbiased perspective, and appreciation for the rich fabric of the style and many lesser known American artists. The tunes are bluesy and memorable, in particular the hard rocking "Bloodied and Alone", the raw and asskicking tones of "Satans Lullaby", fist shaking "Triumph of the Sinner", and the brooding "Beyond the Darkness", which opens with some great organ tones. Diamond C has a lot of character to his voice, think Eric Adams but darker and edgier (and minus the lyrics about metal metal metal).

I like that the band can summon up their nostalgic vibes without being too stupid about it; sure, the artwork is very old school, as are the lyrics and concepts behind the songs, but the band never needs to exclaim their metal-hood. They simply ARE, and the rest is left to our imaginations. Sworn to the Night also has a strong mix to it that never feels overdubbed, it's tight and yet understated, as if the band was playing this in your living room. There's nothing original here, but it's clear the band has a good grasp of their influences and wants to honor them without directly aping their work. In the end, this is a good record, and worth a few spins, especially if you're a bitter old fool like I am. Classic American metal is in good hands.

Highlights: Bloodied and Alone, Beyond the Darkness, Triumph of the Sinner