Midnight, Insurgency and Wolfbastard @ The Head of Steam, Newcastle, April 15 2019

Venom (and Venom Inc.) are now strangers to the stages of Tyneside, the place where Mantas, Abaddon, Cronos and Tony ‘Demolition Man’ Dolan first cut their teeth.

So it’s up to bands like Midnight – the Ohio renegades currently tearing up Europe – to take to Newcastle’s basements… and recreate the thrilling ferocity of the Geordies’ early days.

In a sold out Head of Steam, the hooded trio dialled the clock back to ’82. To a time when extreme music was seen as genuinely dangerous.

Bullet belts, leather and sweat, Mötorized riffs and fistfuls of attitude: Midnight’s frenzied attack is as close to the embryonic spirit of metal and punk you’re ever going to get. It’s raw and uncompromising, an antidote to the sheen of metalcore and tech metal, a middle finger to the mainstream.

Tickets for this gig were snapped up in days, while necks started snapping in a matter of seconds, after the band lunged into Evil Like A Knife. Poison Trash showered an already fervent crowd with angel dust. Rip This Hell threw us, spitting and snarling, into the abyss.

Newcastle’s history as a bastion of NWOBHM – and the birthplace of Black Metal – wasn’t lost on Midnight frontman Athenar. He was jubilant to be in the home of Venom and Neat Records – and fed on the energy of his acolytes, who partied hard for a Monday night… with seemingly scant regard for their next day hangovers.

The Cleveland trio were sure to have been impressed by what they saw of the UK’s underground, during their ‘European prowl’. Scotland’s blackened speed punks Hellripper supported Midnight on their London date last week, while here, Manchester’s Wolfbastard and Lancaster’s Insurgency ensured the US act were kept on their toes.

Spewing up blackened d-beat with tongue firmly planted in cheek, only Wolfbastard could give us I Wanna Be Adored while replacing a broken sting – or make a song called Drink Fucking Beer sound like a politically-charged anarcho-anthem.

Insurgency were a more serious proposition, a raging firestorm of early Sodom riffs propelled into warp speed by drummer Malek Baali. Songs like Suicide Attack hit hard… and the trio could be headlining nights like this very soon, if they stay on their current trajectory.

Yet few acts would come within touching distance of Midnight when they’ve got the bit between their teeth. The trio are still on the verges of the underground, yet they’ve built a rabid fanbase addicted to albums like Sweet Death and Ecstasy and Satanic Royalty, and hooked on the band’s brand of Black Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Who Gives A Fuck?, bellowed Midnight, during their defiant final salvo.

The answer? A hell of a lot of people.

Image used with kind permission of Stefan Rosic.