In recent years the marketplace has been flooded with a seemingly unending stream of unheralded and “lost” albums. Some ended up in the dustbin of popular music history due to poor-to-no distribution, others the result of seeming too “ahead of their time”, while others were produced in numbers so small that none save a few close friends ever heard the sounds contained within the grooves.
And while the majority of these recordings tend to be more in the singer-songwriter vein, there has been an increase in the number of largely Midwestern metal and pro-metal bands following the release of Numero Group’s Darkscorch Canticles installment of its Wayfaring Strangers series. Add to this ever-expanding list of long-forgotten acts the suburban Chicago-based Midnight.
As with so many private presses that barely made their way beyond the bedroom or garage in which they were conceived, Midnight’s (not to be confused with the Cleveland cult favorites of the same name) hard rock and metal aspirations on Into the Night tend to far outweigh their technical proficiency. On “Into The Pit”, guitars struggle to keep up with the unison riffs, stumbling over the rhythm and falling into one another. But given the intensity and passion with which they’re delivered (not to mention the young age of the suburban kids who made up Midnight), their lack of instrumental prowess can be overlooked in favor of their sheer ambition and attempts to transcend their all-too-apparent shortcomings.
They clearly know where they want the music to go throughout Into the Night, tearing through proto-metal, boogie, and ferocious, organ-driven garage rock, it’s simply they haven’t the proverbial chops to equal those of their most direct influences. And while the songs themselves don’t necessarily have the same immediacy as those that influenced Midnight’s approach to writing, the shear energy behind these performances all but make up for a lack of hooks.
Capable of a surprisingly dynamic range, Midnight shows their softer side on the lovely, if ultimately overlong ballad “Time Will Tell”. While somewhat musically and lyrically rudimentary, as with everything else here, their sheer ambition comes through, helping to transcend the album’s weaker moments. And despite several rhythmic complications throughout, it’s an impressive show of range that goes beyond straight ahead balls-to-the-wall rockers that tend to dominate much of the rest of the album.
The question then becomes, what is the inherent value of these types of recordings? Is it their novelty or rarity that helps bring them new life in the 21st century? Has the collector mentality so permeated the market that any and all unheralded recordings 25 or more years old are worthy of consideration? It makes one wonder how successful a purported “lost” album recorded today and passed off as a microscopic private press would be handled.
Were Into the Night recorded and released today instead of the late-1970s, it would warrant little if any mention. As it stands, the album’s age and scarcity seem to be it and the group’s primary selling points as beyond these elements, there’s little on Into the Night that would warrant mention some forty years after it was recorded. It’s an interesting commentary on where we are now in terms of how and where we ascribe quality and determine music worthy of consideration. Those currently toiling away in relative obscurity can take heart that perhaps some day they too will be lionized for their admittedly mediocre efforts. If nothing else, Into the Night serves as an interesting glimpse into the creative process of suburban Chicago teens with a penchant for metal in the late 1970s.
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