When reviewing an album from a new metal band with a female vocalist it is difficult not to compare or contrast with other similar bands in the genre. The task becomes more difficult when said band performs symphonic metal and the dreaded “female-fronted” tag rears its head. I’ll try my best not to make such comparisons when reviewing the self-titled debut from Midnight Eternal but invariably those comparisons will probably come into play to describe the bands sound to newcomers.
Midnight Eternal is a symphonic metal band based out of New York City/NJ. The band was formed in March 2014 when two members of Operatika (Richard Fischer and Boris Zaks) invited drummer Daniel Prestup (Rivera Bomma, Spider Rockets) and Mike LePond (Symphony X) to join them in recording a two-song demo. During the recording, the band acquired the talents of vocalist Raine Hilai based on her previous work in theater and her solo endeavor. Shortly thereafter, Greg Manning (of Spider Rockets, Zamora) joined the band as permanent member taking over bass duties.
The debut album was engineered by Eric Rachel [Skid Row, Symphony X] and the mixing and mastering was handled by Tommy Hansen [Helloween, Pretty Maids, Jorn]. The impressive artwork was created by Jan Yrlund [Apocalyptica, Korpiklaani, Delain].
The albums opening track ‘Till The Bitter End is a symphonic romp with majestic sounding keys, heavy guitar riffs and Hilai’s charismatic sweet vocal melodies. Hilai is a classically trained lyric soprano and has a very strong vocal range. Her voice is not powerful in the classic heavy metal sense but fits perfectly for this style of operatic metal.
Repentance adds a fast paced Euro power metal flair with quick double bass drum work from Prestup and a chugging guitar rhythm and some fine lead work from Fischer. The vocal melodies and harmonies are infectious and the chorus is quite catchy.
The albums lead single and video, also the catchiest song on the album is Signs of Fire. Fantastic hooks, lead and harmony vocal melodies from Hilai carry the song. Remember when I mentioned earlier that I would try not to compare Midnight Eternal to other similar symphonic metal bands? Well forget that for a moment! The band clearly show that one of their biggest influences is the one and only Nightwish. While the song itself is not a clone of Nightwish, the inspiration is there for sure and the band does a fine job creating a memorable moment for fans of Tuomas and company.
The band shows off its musical heavier side with shredding guitars and keys and thrashy drumwork on Shadow Falls. Hilai’s vocals add the perfect balance of bright melodies and a great chorus among the chaos and growling background vocals interspersed within the song.
The Lantern is a unique song arrangement compared to the rest of the albums tracks, featuring acoustic guitar work, subtle dynamics, and a nice interaction of male and female vocals that draw the listener in.
Believe In Love has a poppy feel with a melody that is reminiscent of Dutch band Delain’s lighter moments, while the title track has an epic anthemic metal feel with some powerful melodies and fine guitar work. The vocals are very well done and the chorus is instantly memorable. When Love And Faith Collide is a sweeping epic metal song with a romantic intro and some powerful vocal melodies and layered vocal harmonies. Silence has an 80’s hard rock synth sound with a bit of prog to make things interesting.The albums final song and also its longest, clocking in at 9 minutes is First Time Thrill is a symphonic operatic metal song with lots of twists and turns in the tradition of Delain, Within Temptation and of course Nightwish.
Fans of symphonic operatic power metal will find a lot to enjoy on this debut album. It’s not perfect or original but it’s a fine way to start a career in metal alongside other up and coming U.S. metal acts like MindMaze, Seven Spires, and Seven Kingdoms.