It’s clearly throwback week in the House ov Steel.1 No sooner do I crash land after high speed sledding through the 80s with Warsenal than I find myself prematurely buried in the creepy graveyard of 80s metal curated by England’s Aggressive Perfector. With a sound stuck in the mire between Mercyful Fate and Venom, and at times digging in the same graves that Deceased made a career out of defiling, their debut drags the unsuspecting listener through a horror revival of all the charmingly slimy metal hits of the 80s. It’s hyperactive, sloppy, madcap stuff, but it’s also a cosmic ass-ton of fun, and so over the top that at times it’s hard to decide if it’s a serious project or a sly parody of the excesses of 80s metal2. Whatever the intent, Havoc at the Midnight Hour certainly lives up to its name, and as an agent of havoc myself, I dig it.
This is 36 minutes of enthusiastically bonkers retro metal, and the ride kicks off quite impressively with “Onward to the Cemetery,” which opens with creepy church organs and slowly builds the atmosphere until things explode like shit hurled into a high speed metal fan. From there you are abused by big, greasy Venom-esque riffs and the crazed vocals of General Holocausto (his real name, I’m sure), who sounds like early days King Diamond mixed with Deceased‘s King Fowley (basically all the kings), with some Nasty Ronnie (Nasty Savage) throw in for WWE antics. The whole contraption is in your face, manic and unhinged, which means it’s outrageously funny and surprisingly addictive. “Chains of Black Wrath” sounds like vintage Deceased with an extra Venom injection, and the guitar-work is burly, beefy, and brawly, making it a punch drunk pleasure.
Another highlight is “Turbo Evil,” which is like a Mercyful Fate outtake where the band indulged in a steroid, angel dust, ghost pepper and Monster Energy smoothie before recording. It’s so dumb, but so damn fun, and it makes me want to hurls 2 ton heavy things at pirate ships while fighting off hordes of zombie raptors on a shoreline slick with blood and pizza. This is what 80s metal is all about, boyos. The entire album is gleefully overwrought, throwing copious nods to the gems of metal’s past. For example, “Into the Nightmare” is like the long lost brother to Venom‘s “Welcome to Hell” but with a King Diamond impersonator tagging in for Cronos. While all the songs are enjoyable, the album is a bit front-loaded, with my favorite cuts happening fairy early. The overall shortness of the album works in the band’s favor, since the sheer lunatic style the band employs would likely start to wear thin with a longer runtime. One can only handle so much exposure to rabies and scabies after all.
The material works as well as it does because the band is adept at crafting righteous retro metal riffs that pump you up and bring out your inner Neanderthal. These are the kinds of low brow riffs made for leg day and they come in angry bunches of oats. The guitar-work by Mr. General Holocausto is impressive and he knows how to lean on a good lead until it’s spent, then replace it with a fresh one. As the main vocalist, he lets it all hang out, foaming at the mouth for much of the album. When I say he really goes for it, I mean it. You get screams, falsettos, caterwauls, menacing crooning, cackles, the whole metal biscuit with demon blood icing. He’s a study in over-the-topitude and I salute him for it. As wacky as the music is, it’s clear the band is talented and can play. There’s even a healthy bass presence thanks to Mikhail Wargoat. Gotta love them Wargoats.
Not every metal album has to be super serious and “important.” Havoc at the Midnight Hour is neither of those things, but it is a ton of unabashedly throwback metal fun. If you love classic 80s acts like Mercyful Fate and Venom, you’ll find yourself enjoying this and likely having a good chuckle at the infernal excess. As a longtime fan of infernal excess, it has my Steel of Approval®. War Goats!
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dying Victims Productions
Websites: aggressiveperfector.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/AggressivePerfectorBand
Releases Worldwide: November 22nd, 2019