Album Review :
The Midnight Life - Aslan's Fury

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Artist: The Midnight Life
Album: Aslan’s Fury
Label: Indianola Records
Release Date: March 18, 2008
Review by: Eric Pettersson

Tracklist:
1. From the Ground Up
2. Measures Can’t Help You Here
3. Off the Record
4. Fast Lanes and Barricades
5. The Anatomy of
6. Et Tu Brute
7. Wolves Don’t Dance
8. Dangerous Maneuvers
9. This Is Home Team

For someone who’s been increasingly taking steps away from the metal and hardcore scene over the past few years, finding a new home in indie and even some folk, it’s a special thing when a new heavy band can get my attention. I have my old favorites that I continue to follow, but for the most part I just don’t care about any new heavy bands anymore. After all, they all just want to sound like Norma Jean anyway. So why bother? Because Brandon needs me to review them, that’s why! So I do, and occasionally one of them will break my stereotypes and do something I actually enjoy again. The Midnight Life is almost one of those bands.

I say almost because there is a fatal flaw to this disc, known as the “I like more than one style of music, so I’m going to toss them all together in my own band too” syndrome. Yes, sometimes this syndrome can, like other mental illnesses, lead to the creation of beautiful art (think Vincent Van Gogh), but in most cases it leaves things a little out of step, not quite what they should be. For The Midnight Life, it is their insistence of including some pop-punk choruses with their otherwise metalcore sound. It is especially difficult to take seriously on “From the Ground Up,” which is a shame, because the metal carnage of “Measure’s Cant Help You Here” that immediately follows it is worthy of being played alongside bands like August Burns Red and the like. The drums, the gang vocals, the ferocious screams, and the pounding guitars all warrant a good headbanging, one that almost clears away the bad taste left in my mouth after the opening track. Then the Dallas Taylor-esque shouts towards the end hit, along with the super-heavy breakdown, and the bad taste is completely forgotten, ready for the next fantastic riff, scream, or beat. Unfortunately, they wait far too long to deliver this next surge of hardcore energy, filling in the gap with a lot of pop-punk choruses that might sound nice on a Hawk Nelson record, but just don’t fit here. In fact, I’m pretty sure the next impressive song doesn’t come until track seven, “Wolves Don’t Dance,” which is incredible all the way through, in a brilliant combination of rough southern edges, thick breakdowns, and groovin’ metal riffs. Next comes “Dangerous Maneuvers,” which does an equally good job at getting you moving. The vocals are a trade-off of frantic and powerful, the guitars are squeeling, and the beat is pounding. Even the clean vocals in the chorus are a nice addition, being that they come across as a smooth layer to this metal sound, as opposed to a poppy clash in the middle of the song. The chorus of “This Is Home Team” does get a little poppy, but in this case it works, along with the thundering bass and gang vocals during the breakdown, as the lead vocals growl “Let me show you how,” over and over, followed by a sweet guitar lick. (Although I must add, I was confused by the line “Best friends means friends forever,” because I always thought it meant I pull the trigger, or at least you get what you deserve.)

As I said, heavy music is getting to be less and less my thing. Certain bands, however, stand out and captivate me, despite my recent love and obsession with bands like The Snake the Cross the Crown and Gasoline Heart. One of those bands is The Showdown, whose new record I await with eager anticipation. The Midnight Life, however, will unfortunately fall through the cracks, into that box I keep in my room for all the CDs I review and then don’t know what to do with afterwards. But this does not mean I will never care about this band. If their follow-up to Aslan’s Fury dares to drop the poppier side of their sound and expand into the experimental realms of heavier music, then I will be all ears.

6/10

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