MIDNIGHT CHASER "Rough and Tough"

METALIAN "Rock Solid"

By Dr. Abner Mality

These two bands on the surface would appear to be almost identical. They both specialize in "back to basics" heavy metal rooted in the NWOBHM and classic hard rock. They are both on the Heavy Artillery label. Both sport singers of undoubted talent. Yet there is a difference in quality that ensures one of them is far ahead of the other one.

Midnight Chaser hail from the Bay Area of San Francisco but have very little thrash in their sound. To be frank, these guys sound like a good time metal bar band that got lucky and landed a record contract. Judging from the awful cover of "Rough and Tough", not much of their budget went to the art. Even in 1981, that would have sucked. As for the music, I can't slam these guys because they are definitely metal and I bet they raise the roof live, but their metal is just too plain and flat for me. You can be stripped down and have interesting songs as the same time, but Midnight Chaser hasn't quite gotten to that level yet. This is like chili with no spice. The songs chug with very basic and often borrowed riffs and the playing is serviceable but that's all. Singer Scott Atwood has a soulful metal voice and he lifts Midnight Chaser above also-ran status. These guys need to kick things up a notch to make a dent in the metal world.

Metalian from Montreal really aren't far away at all from Midnight Chaser in terms of sound and influence, yet they possess an X-factor that makes them the superior band in every way. Vocalist Ian Wilson is compared to the likes of Geoff Tate and John Arch and that doesn't fall too far short. He has a fantastic soaring voice that can occasionally shatter glass but which always can transmit melody. Metalian is more NWOBHM influenced and a bit heavier than Midnight Chaser...I hear a lot of Cloven Hoof, Angelwitch and more in their attack, mixed with the expected Priest and Maiden influences. Here's a band that's found the secret to simple music that draws you into it. Opener "Conquest" is a great example, starting quietly, then kicking up the intensity not once but twice, unleashing great solos and screams along the way. "Sonic Attack", "Motor Maniac" and "Wasteland" are raw and aggressive, while "Soldiers of the Dawn" reminds me a bit of Accept's "Princess of the Dawn" with the stately way it chugs forth. Metalian is a very derivative band but rises above that to deliver a real keeper with "Rock Solid".

You now know which of these bands to give priority to.