Black Lotus
Release date: September 27, 2005

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Just a warning before starting off here – all sane, sober, straight A4 human beings stay away. The award for weirdest album of the year is hereby announced, and Midnight is the winner with a margin of miles and miles and more miles. Anyone up for Psychedelic 70s Rock mixed with Acoustic Country and Etho-Pop with nasal Metal vocals on top?

For the unknowing, Midnight was once frontman in the legendary USA Prog Metal band Crimson Glory, whose career peaked with the monumental 1988 release Transcendence. This is, obviously, something completely different from that, and from about everything else out there too!

“Incubus” starts things off in a relatively straightforward manner. This track is very 70s with its pentatonic main riff, a more recent resemblance can be found to the solo album of Symphony X’s Russell Allen. Next up is “Berber Trails,” which actually features Ben Jackson from Crimson Glory on bass, and this is where the album heads straight into the woods, to put it metaphorically. This track is, for the most part, acoustic, with harmonies from somewhere between Kentucky and Kuala Lumpur. Midnight’s vocal melody is monotonous and psychedelic (or rather psycho-delic), and with the lyrics to complete the package (doesn’t he sing “I want to live in the desert where the camel has no smile”?), this is something … er …unique.

“Little Mary Sunshine” and “Miss Katie” are both dealing with some sort of female figures lyrically, but it’s hard to find any other similarities. The former is a rockier track with a distinct major key vocal melody, and vocals that actually sound more screamy than creamy, and the latter is more acoustic Indian marketplace music. The track features some majestic backing vocals and a cool, Folk-ish vocal melody, which makes it much more listenable than “Berber Trails,” though.

“War” is more straightforward and also maybe the heaviest track on the album, and is also the track most similar to Crimson Glory. The verses, especially the vocals, but also the guitar work and drum groove, could actually have dated from an old CG demo, although the psychedelic elements are still present.

“Pain” is a two-edged sword. On one hand, this is originally a beautiful song, with a marvellous melody and gripping lyrics which really shows the genius of Midnight. This song was released as an MP3 teaser some years ago, and all in all it is as moving as it was back then. The new and “improved” version (the old one was an acoustic ballad) is electric and much more uptempo – some joke of a guitar player lays down loads and loads of some truly horrible, completely off-key, and straight-ahead ridiculous lead guitar lines, which almost, but only almost, manages to ruin the track (actually the guy’s name is Scott Gibson, and this is not intended as a personal assault, but his playing here is so lame it has to be said in a clear language).

The title track follows, and now they’re really talkin’. This is an acoustic ballad so heartfelt and real, and filled to the brim with such earth-shaking beauty, words cannot probably do it full justice. Midnight is at his most emotional here, and with a stunning arrangement with the flute, maracas, dulcimer and –- hold on –- some extraordinary guitar work from Mr. Gibson. Yes, Scottie shows a completely different side of himself here, with both acoustic and clean electric lines which actually strengthens the track.

“Lost Boy” is also a quite calm number, and another beautiful song. The melodies are, overall, much stronger on the second half of the album than the first, and the arrangements are much more thought out. It actually sounds like steel guitar is used here, but whatever it may be, it sounds cool. Midnight’s vocals are also more relaxed … another strong number.

Where “Berber Trails” was all out Kuala Lumpur, “The Cat Song” is hardcore Kentucky, maybe with a tad of 70s Woodstock added. It’s hard to describe the song more in detail, but anyway you slice it, it sounds cool, and that’s the most important thing. These last songs also save the album as a whole. If one looks away from the experimental aspect, songs like “Incubus,” “Berber Trails,” and “Little Mary Sunshine” are not good enough, plain and simple, but the closing quartet saves the day.

Another aspect which has to be mentioned is the very poor production quality … some might say it suits the music, and every listener probably has to make up his/her own mind about this, but at least songs like “War,” which is on the more straight-ahead side, would definitely benefit from a crispier production.

It’s impossible not to recommend giving this album a listen, albeit the obvious weak spots, as this is an experience you’ll never forget.


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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