Midnight Force – Gododdin (Iron Shield Records)Monday, 21st October 2019
Continuing to embrace their classic metal stance, Midnight Force return quickly with their sophomore album Gododdin. Pairing this style with lyrical content from the crusades, Roman campaigns on through to Scottish battles seems natural, as this quartet deliver a sound rich in throwback 70’s/early 80’s influences. Everything about these eight songs speaks to a bygone era, a primitive production base that builds out into a flair for the epic in terms of riffing as well as the melodies to set your brain and body ablaze as you journey into another realm.
Certain drum rolls of Pete Werninck recall Di’Anno-era Iron Maiden when Clive Burr cemented his importance on their early work – check out “The Doom of Kiev” specifically against his otherwise forceful / straightforward kit duties. Progressive rock aspects come up in the smallest details – the fluid bass parts from Brenden Crow a significant part of the driving nature to “In Lindisfarne it Lay”, a chorus tongue twister for singer John Gunn to wrap his voice around but he can belt out those ear-piercing eagle notes when the occasion calls. Unafraid to add in passages that are slower and doomier to ramp up the epic factor, there is an obvious NWOBHM aspect to most of this material – intertwining groups like Satan and Iron Maiden against the reverence of classic Manilla Road. The main bone of contention for full enjoyment lies in some of the histrionic vocal lines John executes from to time (“Covenant” a prime offender for some off-kilter melodies during the verses) as well as some suspect lead breaks from guitarist Ansgar Burke and wild keyboard placement. It may have something to do with a free-flowing outlook when performing a classic style that at this point contains four decades of history, but these ears can’t help to wish for a little more seasoning and tighten up the arrangements for a touch more quality control.
If looking at newer bands who tackle this classic metal foundation today, names like Eternal Champion and Visigoth are heads and shoulders above Midnight Force at this juncture in their career. Gododdin holds promise, just slightly unfulfilled, and maybe the third full-length will right the creative ship and sail into the promised land.