It’d be difficult to describe the grotesque joy of stomach-churning carnage, unrepentant mayhem, and the ‘snap’ of fragile sanity collapsing into debauchery and blood-splattered ruin (in film) to folks who hadn’t existed nearby the much-lauded strides made during the pop culture renaissance of fear-inducing supernatural horror throughout the 70’s and 80’s. When did you first see a head chopped clean off? For me it’d been in a fifth grade class where we’d watched a videotaped news story about violence in the media inciting violence in children; Of course it started light with a heavy metal band nobody was afraid of, Twisted Sister, and then followed up with a clip of Leatherface sledgehammering a teenagers head to mush, presumably from the second or third Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie. Who knows how many young minds were destroyed that day but just like the soon-to-come D.A.R.E. program the folks who’d warned us against rock music, violent movies, and drugs were actually educating us on some of the most fun we’d have until about 2010 when the internet spoiled and desensitized every idiot into a fucking boring know-it-all phone-stroker. Er, uh, whoops… What I’m getting at is the nausea of seeing simulated violence was exactly the same feeling I’d gotten listening to Slayer‘s ‘Hell Awaits’ for the first time, a shitting of that religiously instilled guilty ‘wrong‘ feeling that exposure to the dark side of anything should bring. Hell I’d never warm up to mayhem and violence for real but I still love the brutal strut of speed metal — I’d venture a guess that core point of discovery wasn’t too far off for the folks in Aggressive Perfector, not only because they’ve named themselves after a bonus track on ‘Haunting the Chapel’ but because they play an exciting brand of admirably authentic mid-80’s ‘Satanic’ supernatural horror-themed heavy/speed metal.
‘Havoc at the Midnight Hour’ is one of the most striking debuts in recent memory, an energetic shock of melodically viable and bloody-stump swinging heavy metal that’ll do more than tickle out a bit of nostalgia from your old bones. This is actually a side project from a trio of Manchester, England based folks who’re best known for their black metal band Wode. That black metal point of view isn’t the whole story but you’ll surely hear hints of early Midnight as well as some nods to Warfare, Slayer, and Bathory (“Land of No Return”) along the way. Rolling things back a bit a closer look at the original version of Slayer‘s “Aggressive Perfector” itself is a good places to start in terms of describing this projects sound and overall modus as they’ve put a bit of a Satanic speed metal spin on ‘Kill ‘Em All’ much like Slayer had done on the original version of the song they’re named after. Maybe I’m pushing for that coincidence more than it is actually there, but it is yet a fitting way to describe the high-energy heavy/speed metal experience of ‘Havoc at the Midnight Hour’. They’re as brash as Exciter, as catchy as Tank, and they’ve managed a bit of their own ‘Death & Insanity’ era Hallow’s Eve swagger on the way (“Into the Nightmare”). All things considered, Aggressive Perfector are a bit more melodic and ‘metalpunk’ than any of those namedrops might suggest.
When they’re fired up and loving the riffs they’re ripping Aggressive Perfector sound like a mountainous too-late speed metal band circa 1986 thanks to a strong thread of NWOBHM influenced riffs and a general tour of their favorite melodic devices shareable between the darker side of 80’s heavy metal. Trouble with all of that tunnel vision is that each and every song hits at about the same pace and depth as the album plays, it isn’t ‘one note’ by any means but Aggressive Perfector are occasionally too effective with their take on classic evil heavy metal. I’d gotten about ten or so listens deep before this became a little bit trying but I’d become so enamored with a few of the tracks that it’d never really fucked with the overall listening experience. “Turbo Evil” is just a damn good time, a club swinging heavy metal song that feels great as this big gallop-kickin’ catchy piece that help define the overall spirit of this debut. “Into the Nightmare” would be the second biggest highlight with its “Lethal Tendencies”-meets-Megadeth riffs and Celtic Frost worthy refrain adding up to one mighty thrasher you’d expect to hear live.
Staring at it’s fantastically gory 80’s cult horror movie cover art and in the midst of its melodic-but-shouted rip it is hard not to be charmed to death by ‘Havoc at the Midnight Hour’ and in this sense Aggressive Perfector have really hit the mark with this debut. I would say there are a few tracks that feel redundant (“Devil’s Bastard”) or underbaked (“Vengeful One”) but by the time those hit on the tracklist you’ll still be reeling from the strength of Side A. A definite standout in the heavy/speed metal realm this year and again, one of the better debuts in recent memory.
High recommendation. 4.25/5.0
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