Midnight / Spirit Adrift / Spiter – May 6, 2023 – The Orpheum, Tampa, FLSunday, 21st May 2023
Photos by: Brittany Barkasi
Speed metal has made quite the resurgence in the last decade plus. These days, you’ll find plenty of festivals with a large focus on this style of metal – with Hell’s Heroes being a prolific example in the US. Blackened speedsters Midnight are a band who are due much credit, bringing an aggressive madness to the table that’s a damn good time both on record and in a live setting. It’s hard for this seemingly now old timer to accept that 2023 serves as the band’s 20th anniversary, and there’s no better way to celebrate than with a sizable headline run.
On this leg of the jaunt, Midnight brought along the classic heavy metal stylings of Spirit Adrift, as well as blackened/punk metallers Spiter, to make a visit to Tampa at our familiar ground of The Orpheum, this time on their indoor stage (they have an awesome outdoor setup as well, for larger-scale shows). What occurred was a wild melee fitting of Midnight’s touring celebration.
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Opening proceedings was Philadelphia’s Spiter, who describe themselves as “true vampyric metal punk.” One thing is for sure – they play loud and fast, and they absolutely have a punk edge to their sound and presentation. Some segments of the crowd were really buying what they were selling, thrashing about with reckless abandon to entries such as “Living Nightmare” and “Tortured Soul.”
They no doubt bring a palpable energy, but other than playing very loud and fast, for this writer, they didn’t bring a whole lot else to the table. Musically, they definitely have room to grow, with a lot of songs blending together a bit much. Vocalist/guitarist Richard Spider shouted out some choice cringe between song banter that was certainly not my cup of tea, and some others seemed to be put off a bit as well. Not a major factor, mind you, but it is what it is.
With that said, plenty in the crowd enjoyed Spiter, and those who did were really into them. They have potential, and we’ll see what happens with future releases, as there could be a really cool album in them.
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The vintage stylings of Spirit Adrift were next on the bill, and their eclectic mix of old school metal, 70s/80s prog, and hints of classic doom were a big hit. There’s a definitive technicality to their music, while also displaying an ability to progressively jam along that suits their mix of influences like a glove.
Opening with the galloping “Sorcerer’s Fate” from their 20 Centuries Gone EP set the tone, with the twin guitar onslaught of also vocalist Nate Garrett and fellow six string extraordinaire Tom Draper amounting to an inspiring display of fretboard wizardry. Tracks like “Forge Your Future” displayed the more progressive side of the band, while the riff-heavy “Divided by Darkness” crushed the frenetic crowd into dust.
Garrett’s soaring, soulful singing was pitch perfect on this evening, putting forth an emotive delivery that fits their songs wonderfully. Drummer Mike Arellano showed a command behind the kit, with his keen ability to know when to go all out, and when to pull back when a song requires a restrained touch – a trait that isn’t seen every day. Spirit Adrift also played a yet to be released song from their upcoming new full-length Ghost at the Gallows titled “Hanged Man’s Revenge,” a sludgy doom-inspired romp that Garrett stated contained a “swamp riff.” The man wasn’t lying.
Spirit Adrift are at the forefront of their genre, and proved it with a scintillating performance that had a little bit of everything. Their new album is sure to be a good one, so keep an ear out for that on August 18th, and be sure to catch them live for a tight exposition of everything that is great about heavy metal music.
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Everyone was frothing at the mouth for Midnight to sleaze up the stage with their blackened speed metal debauchery, and bring the power and violence they did. Right from the first note of opening salvo “Funeral Bell,” the crowd exploded into a whirling storm of insanity.
The last time we caught Midnight was at the Party.San festival in Germany way back in 2015, and it’s cool to have seen them on a bigger open air stage, and now again in a club setting. Their energy translates the same in both venues, with Athenar and co. putting on a raw and spirited performance that resulted in all sorts of audience shenanigans. At times getting a bit untethered, with attempted stage divers (the stage is pretty low with no barrier, so not the best scenario to start with) awkwardly eating a helping of floor more than a few times. Gladly, it seems nobody was hurt, and continued to rage with seemingly limitless stamina.
Midnight simply know how to bring unbridled enthusiasm and disgusting riffage, exemplified by long standing early works such as “Satanic Royalty” and “Lust Filth and Sleaze,” to more recent wrecking balls in “Fucking Speed and Darkness” and “Szex Witchery.”
A common theme of full-speed blackened anarchy was on full display, with the band hitting their debaucherous crescendo when guitarist Commandor Vanik scaled to the top of his amp to rile up the crowd with a punk rock-like showmanship to compliment his superb axe grinding skills. Main songwriter Athenar wielded his bass like a thundering sledgehammer, along his raspy screams adding a further tinge of unrepentant furor.
Closing out the evening were the melodic but still biting “You Can’t Stop Steel” and the crunchy and stripped down “Unholy and Rotten,” marking off a chaotic evening that represented the band’s extensive catalog in the highest – or filthiest – of esteem.
The Cleveland road veterans known as Midnight put on an unsurprisingly bombastic show full of mayhem and bedlam, but thankfully didn’t sacrifice top quality musicianship to do it. Their years of experience has aided in becoming a well-lubricated live machine, resulting in a tight as can be performance that showed just why they’re at the top of their chosen style. It’s hard to believe they’ve been doing this for 20 years.
Spirit Adrift was beyond impressive in our first time experiencing them live, and we are excited to see where they go from here with their latest full-length fast approaching. We hope that our paths cross again in the near future, and those chances are likely high, as they continue to ascend the proverbial ladder. Spiter brought the spunk with a riotous display, and we hope to see further honing of their sound in the future.
All-in-all, a successful outing for all involved, and we thank this trio for literally bringing the noise, along with a large dose of insanity. We truly wouldn’t have it any other way. Midnight is here to stay and slay, and one certainly hopes they have many more milestone career moments to hit in the near and distant future.