Midnight Eye Nightmonger

Midnight EyeNightmonger
While a great deal of music criticism is reduced to labeling bands according to sub-genres, making up new categories if need be, there's always a jolt of excitement when you find yourself thinking, "what am I actually listening to?" Nightmonger (the latest three-song EP from Washington, DC-based Midnight Eye) fuses the riff-centered energy and catchy song structures of classic thrash and NWOBHM with the complex riffing of prog. The guitars range all over the place, from simplistic, thrashy shredding to advanced prog noodling, with even some black metal buzzing and tremolo riffs at the end of "Outsider." There's a keen balance between high- and lowbrow, the straightforward and the intricate, which is at once schizophrenic and breathlessly enjoyable. The vocals, however, trip the record up. The King Diamond-esque, mid-range clean singing is placed very forward in the mix, sometimes dominating, and the occasional moment of awkwardness or lack of commitment to the vocals can be a buzzkill. The hybridized, kitchen-sink-style instrumentation is novel enough, but Nightmonger lacks a unifying strength, which keeps it from thriving. (ForceField)