MIDNIGHT REIGN – Never Look Back

MIDNIGHT REIGN - Never Look Back
  • 5.5/10
    MIDNIGHT REIGN - Never Look Back - 5.5/10


The Hollywood RX Records
Release date: May 7, 2007

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Never Look Back is the debut release for Midnight Reign, a band founded by Joseph Michael, who handles vocals, guitar, bass, and keyboards on this album. Rounding out the California-based quartet are Adam Gust, drums; Starla Baker, cello; and Alma Cielo, violin. Michael also produced the 10-song disc and wrote all the music and lyrics too. Rumors that he also tidied up the studio after recording sessions could not be confirmed.

By looking at the pictures contained in Never Look Back‘s liner notes, you might get the impression that Michael and Midnight Reign are some sort of Marilyn Manson-esque outfit and you wouldn’t be too far off, although Midnight Reign seems to be less preoccupied with shocking people with outrageous antics than they are with just rocking out while looking slightly-scary doing so.

The music on Never Look Back is dirty, grungy, raucous, and a bit on the sleazy side, hearkening back to the early days of Sleaze and Glam Rock, but Midnight Reign is certainly not a Sleaze act by any stretch, although some of the lyrics are rather bawdy, albeit in a fairly amusing way that’s hard to take really seriously; Michael seems to be winking at the listener just a little bit. The use of stringed instruments and keyboards also adds a bit of depth and atmosphere to some of the tunes.

As mentioned, most of the songs on Never Look Back are noisy and in-your-face, with lots of loud guitars and stomping drums to go around, and there’s a general attitude of fun and recklessness to the album, with tunes like the amusing “The Hollywood RX” and “XXX (Playground)” being highlights in this regard; the lyrics to both these songs are rather funny, with Michael’s leering delivery helping to sell them. A couple of songs, like “The Mourning After” and “Far Away” are slower-paced and aim to be a bit more than forgettable Rock tunes, and with their atmosphere and drama, they succeed.

Never Look Back has a few good songs on it, but overall is nothing really that amazing: outside of the songs mentioned above, it’s mostly average, with long stretches going by where it seems like the songs are just sort of “happening” and not really going the extra mile to try and grab you. None of the tunes are bad, but you’ll be hard-pressed to remember the majority of them once the disc is finished playing. It also doesn’t help that a couple of songs go on too long and start to get a bit dull after a while.

All in all, though, Never Look Back is certainly not a bad debut: Midnight Reign shows musical talent and they certainly have attitude, two things that go a long way in the music business. This first disc has promise, and if you like dirty Hard Rock you might enjoy it.


  • Gary McLean

    Gary was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of the small Ontario, Canada town of Sault Ste. Marie, right on the border of Michigan, USA. When it comes to Metal and Hard Rock, Gary likes quite a few different bands, from stalwarts like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, to newer, hard-hitting groups such as Primal Fear, Hammerfall, and Paragon. Other favorites include the likes of Nightwish, Running Wild, Therion, Accept, Stratovarius, Dream Evil, Helloween, Rammstein, Dirty Looks, Crimson Glory, Tristania, and Gamma Ray. He thinks AC/DC deserves a paragraph all their own though.

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