Photo gallery: Midnight and Night Demon at Bristol Exchange (June 2022)

Tonight’s entertainment at the Exchange in Bristol is set to be quite the event- and on a MONDAY no less. What a start to the week in the best and (arguably for the next day) worst way. The cited line up of three American blackened speed bands isn’t entirely accurate for this evening but variety is the spice of life, so this is no bad thing!

After missing first band (apologies to Sadistic Force) it’s Night Demon who are up next. The Californian trio formed ten years ago but what they play is much more British than American. They fuck with a nostalgic eighties New Wave Of British Heavy Metal sound that is as cheesy as it is perfectly loud, fast and heavy.

Elements of thrash and punk riffs and galloping drums are seamlessly blended into the brilliantly curated set list along with the soaring vocals from the (more sweat than leather) clad frontman. Night Demon have the audience descending even further into a rampant, manic, head banging and moshing frenzy as each following track scorches the stage of the Exchange. It is therefore a tantalising climax that they reach when they finally bring their set to an obliterating close leaving the crowd wondering how the hell Midnight might be able to up the ante.

That ante though, is indeed inhumanely and somewhat cruelly upped and the price will be pain! For many, Night Demon’s pulsating energy could potentially be a hard act to follow but not for fellow Americans Midnight – who raise the bar to such great heights that the entire room erupts in a blaze of thrashing heads and limbs. As they continue to fan the flames of the smouldering ruins of their predecessors the action on and off stage somehow relentlessly builds in intensity just as the ferocious music – akin to the spawn of Darkthrone and Motorhead– does.

Visceral and filthy thrashened black speed metal with a punky twist AND danceable funky groove, tongue in cheek humour, studs, chains and leather galore- what’s not to love!? Adorned with sinister and mysterious executioner hoods the trio cast a demonic euphoria over their now mindless minions who yell along to the catchy snarling vocals featuring such brilliant titles as ‘Szex Witchery’ and ‘Nocturnal Molestation’ from latest album release Let There Be WItchery along with classics “Penetral Ecstasy” and “Satanic Royalty”.

It’s easy to forget that this is the brainchild of just one man,The Ohioan Athenar – guitarist, bassist, drummer, vocalist and songwriter rolled into one. Tonight he plays the bass and the stage antics of himself and the guitarist matches his energy. The drummer plays tight and thunderous beats but is somewhat overshadowed by their roguery of using the stage as a playground which includes hanging (with bass in hand) off the stage speakers, balancing precariously on the monitors and if it’s possible for the fanatics to go even more nuts, they do.

After being chewed up and spat out for over an hour by these reckless and obnoxious demons the baying crowd (of a notable mix of ages) are reduced to a bunch of sweaty and exhausted but ecstatic grinning idiots. Heads and necks are gonna hurt tomorrow but by satan is it worth it, death and fucking roll!

Words and photography by Abi Coulson: Darktones Photography

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