After making a quick impact on the heavy metal scene by getting signed to Heavy Artillery Records, California’s Midnight Chaser has been a bit quieter lately. 2014 saw the independent release of their second full-length, “Lion’s Choice”, which is soon to be re-released on CD by Swords and Chains Records. There could not be a better partnership between band and label because Midnight Chaser represents everything the label is about: great songs and old-school heavy metal. “Lion’s Choice” is a stellar exercise in masterful, memorable songwriting that shows the influence of any number of classic metal bands from Iron Maiden to Saxon to Diamond Head, and even to bands grounded in hard rock like UFO or Scorpions (the former of which they cover on this record).
The best song on “Lion’s Choice” is the title track. Not only does this song rock out tremendously, but it also syncs up some of the guitar melodies with the vocals, making these sections doubly potent and catchy. This is the type of song that will be closing out their concerts for the next 3 decades – a true heavy metal classic. The next track, “Rollin’” only further speeds things up. Again, the quintessential heavy metal formula is present: charged-up riffs, energetic solos, and an enthusiastic singer makes for a convincing track. As with many of their contemporaries, Midnight Chaser’s guitarists absolutely abuse their fretboards all throughout the record. There is no shortage of guitar solos, and despite the somewhat rock and roll nature of this record (at least compared to the straight up speed metal of bands like Skull Fist), the solos are actually surprisingly virtuosic at times.
As alluded to earlier, this album has a number of tracks that lean more towards hard rock than metal. The first of these is “White Denim”, but “Juicer” also takes a similar approach. The band pulls off both this style and a heavier one seamlessly. The sounds really aren’t that far apart from one another, so it works effectively. It is for this reason, that the cover of Savage’s “Cry Wolf” sounds perfectly aligned with the rest of the record. As much as I hate to admit this, I’m not really familiar with any of Savage’s work, and if you hadn’t told me that this was a cover, there would be no way to know. On the other hand, the cover of UFO’s “Mother Mary” is a little more distinct, and probably the only moment on the record that feels a little out of place. This brings up the only real problem with this album: It doesn’t quite crack 35 minutes, yet it has two covers included in that runtime. Nevertheless, they’re well enough executed that it doesn’t matter too much.
On the whole, “Lion’s Choice” is an impressive heavy metal release. Not only does it have a significant amount of passion and vigor in the music, but it also stands on its own from many other traditional heavy metal bands. Considering the basic formula is the same as a lot of other bands, this is an impressive achievement. There might be a lot of great talent in the traditional heavy metal scene these days, but Midnight Chaser can compete with any other band out there!
Be sure to check out and like Midnight Chaser on Facebook!
4.4/5 or 88%.
Written by Scott