Released just a year after their ‘Ride The Wave’ EP, ‘Paranormal’ continues Canadian metal band Midnight Tripper’s journey through a world of heavy riffs, and if anything cranks the volume and tension, ensuring an even noisier experience than before. There’s something inherently classic about their chosen sound, but it doesn’t take a predictable 80s route. Instead, the best bits of this EP fuse classic metal with a strong rock ‘n’ roll ethic, creating material that’s aggressive and grubby, but above all, conveys a high octane feeling of fun.

It takes all of about three bars to fall in love with opener ‘Bloodletting’ where the band manage to weld a hefty punk and roll riff to something that’s on loan from The Almighty’s ‘Powertrippin’ album. The repetitious shift between high powered grooves and a heavier, stoner-ish vibe sets up a track with some serious muscle, and that’s before taking the vocal into consideration. Dan Post’s deliberately shouty approach gives this massively energised workout an even bigger kick, and his tones take the band further from straight up stoner metal into a world where a spit ‘n’ sawdust attitude cuts through every lyric. “No way I’ll make it out alive”, he yells somewhere around the midpoint, and at that stage, you might even believe him. He’s a man battling against some fierce musical elements, but once things slow down for a blues drenched lead guitar break, there’s a timely reminder that this aggressive band also know their way around some massive rock melodies. This is a great exercise in how to wedge three different moods into one solid five minute tour-de-force. If you’ve never heard Midnight Tripper before, it’s very much the kind of tune that’ll make you sit up and listen.

Such a bold opening statement could make the rest of the EP fall flat, but with a sizeable bassline and swaggering groove at the helm of ‘Alien’, Midnight Tripper plough forward with a stoner/melodic doom arrangement that revisits the weighty sound of bands like Trouble, but they inject that with a lot of their own flair. Atop of the melodic tinged Sabbath-isms, the vocals drawl slightly, but never in a way that kills the track; if anything, the downbeat tones give it an extra moodiness throughout. For those looking for something more tuneful, there’s some respite when a well structured guitar solo hits, and there’s more enjoyment to be found when the band switches gears for a big finish where far more of a rock groove plunges them head first into a massive climax. In another change of mood, the title cut fuses fuzzy hard rock with a really fast riff and the transition between the riffs actually sounds really natural. A few of the speed oriented moments have a glimmer of Anthrax at their most trashy, but as before, this band’s own character shines through. This is especially the case at the point where they decide to take their usual kitchen sink approach and follow a shreddy guitar solo with a round of militaristic drums, before falling back into a mid tempo chug to finish. The track clocks in at under three minutes but is bristling with life and bursting with ideas, always aiming to give the listener a welcome adrenaline kick.

A final short and sharp round of riffs can be experienced via ‘On The One’ when the band trade in some of their rock ‘n’ roll for an opening groove that could be an old L7 tune, before sliding easily into a punchy rocker that makes a great feature of Mikke Pasonessa’s guitar. He handles the main groove with plenty of wah wah and a pleasingly dirty feel, but it’s his blues-rock drenched lead work that makes the bigger impression as he fills approximately half the track with an on point lead. That’s not to take anything away from the others, of course, and in this instance, Reed Rosiana’s drumming comes with an even bigger punch, and Dan’s vocals manage to perfect the Midnight Tripper moodiness that’s been escalating over the previous numbers.

A lot of the sounds on ‘Paranormal’ resemble angst ridden, hard riffin’ rock you’ll have encountered before, but there’s something about the freewheeling way in which Midnight Tripper attack their craft that makes anything predictable retain a genuine excitement. This four tracker is big on riffs and even bigger on attitude – a massive juggernaut of noise that retro rock fans should devour with glee. In a little over fifteen minutes, this release shares the sounds of a band riding massive riffs to glory, sounding capable of smashing absolutely everything in their path. Highly recommended.

July 2023