Lizzy Borden - My Midnight Things

Lizzy Borden My Midnight Things cover
Lizzy Borden
My Midnight Things
Metal Blade Records
While Lizzy Borden were pretty active during their 80s heydey, since their “re-union” in the late 90s only a measly three new albums of material (this one inclusive) have been released. Some older out of print material has been re-released and updated from VHS to DVD in the case of the Murderess Metal Show and the “offshoot” band Starwood did also release an album, among countless medium scale tours, but that doesn’t really count as “new” material. Which is especially mysterious, considering the fact that Lizzy – the eponymous singer, born Gregory Charles Harges – had mentioned during an interview a decade back that during their time off he must have had demoed over a hundred or so songs.
Still not one to look – not really a gift horse in the mouth – but a new Lizzy Borden album with a jaundiced eye, I found the news of an imminent release quite exciting. I was a little puzzled, as this was at first mentioned as a “solo” album with guest musicians, pretty much in the same league and following the same template as “Master of Disguise”. Pretty compatible, sound-wise to be included in the band’s canon and discography, but ever slightly so different to also stand apart on its own. Expect the some slightly more symphonic ideas, the odd, pretty audible set of strings and in general a slightly different “atmosphere” from the last couple of LB “band” efforts.
“My Midnight Things” starts off with the eponymous cut, a pretty stomping and melodic tune of flashy horrortastic metal; you know that Alice Cooper meets Kiss sort of thingy that LB and co do so well. It will surely make a silly, blood red smile appear upon your face… I can guarantee as much.
“Obsessed with You” is a hedonistic sort of melodic semi haunting ballad, with a very repetitive refrain, about a person well, obsessed… with some lady; it is heavy on organ like keys and pretty ambient but ties in really nicely with the entire bands mythos and all the different things Lizzy tries, pay off, despite taking a little risk, as they create a pretty claustrophobic but at the same time eventful track with great depth.
“Long May They Haunt Us” starts like a breezy rock n roller that very quickly decays and erupts into a bacchanalian celebration of all things in our memories that remain, including our fears; it doesn’t really make much sense until the chorus kicks in and makes it all come together. Also the video, makes me think that LB should be cast to do “The Crow” as he has that look down and that “crazy” in the eye, unless it’s a contact lens (in which case he still nails the look pretty well with the aid of contacts)!
“The Scar Across My Heart” is a busier song with just too many layers and things going on and herein lies a problem, despite the fact that all instruments, minus the drums which are handled by his brother, are recorded by Lizzy himself, whoever did mix this thing managed to get a decent balance, but hasn’t managed to leave enough breathing room – a thing that’s more evident in the places where there are more complex arrangements or more layers resulting in overtly loud but somewhat muffled drums and vocals that in a lot of places sound too buried in the mix – and I don’t think that this might be because Lizzy is having issues with his voice as he seems to be hitting notes – fine – left and right… no problem.
“A Stranger to Love” is another interesting tune that feels that it could have fit in “Deal with the Devil” but it’s modernized a bit, including a poppy beat, a brassy effect driven guitar riff here and there… a bit like someone mixed together “Zanzibar” and “We Only Come Out at Night”. Despite the not super clear mix, it’s pretty damn enjoyable.
“The Perfect Poison” briefly experiments with vocoders, with pretty terribly results, before going full on weirdo, with a simple but effective background melody that at times is driven by synthy sounding guitars, at others by almost mocking piano trills and so on. It’s a great concept, but those “voco-seconds” and the overall weirdness in the mix, which really make the drums here sound really terrible, seem to be its downfall of sorts.
“Run Away with Me” sounds quite atypical of LB, to be honest, even for the “Visual Lies/Master of Disguise” era. It has some nice melodies, but the whole harmonies and everything make it sound like a weird mix of poppy extravantgarde rock with new wave, if that last description makes any sense at all.
“Our Love is God” is also very experimental; think LB goes electro via Rob Zombie. Like the melody, but the arrangement is not exactly my cup of tea… while a similar thing didn’t irk me on “We Only Come Out at Night” here it’s full on. I dunno, if you dig Die Krupps original stuff and not the Metallica covers, you might or might not dig this one and I can see a few trad-metallers smirks, disappearing upon hearing this one.
An acoustic reprise of “The Midnight Things” with plenty of harmonies and piano and minimal strings is next and it’s interesting and soothing in its majesty.
And because he can, LB starts “We Belong to the Shadows” acapella, before it transforms in a high energy disco-rocker with a weird atmosphere. Think as if someone mixed Kiss’ “Dynasty” with Styx and Ghost; I know it sounds pretty terrible and trust me it’s not, but it will certainly make you raise an eyebrow. Very grandiose as an idea, I think it goes a little off the deep end in more ways than one, sounding more like the polished demo of a great song, than that great song.
And while in that cabaret, piano bar sort of mood, LB does another reprise of “Long May They Haunt Us” with hushed vocal tones, pianos and other little flourishes. Interesting take with a huge ambiance but, I’d take the “original” over this any day… you know maybe in the day of singles this would have been an interesting “B” side.
I was kind of disgusted… not really disgusted – but perplexed maybe to find that the next song was “Silent Night”… you know the Christmas song, but this is the “Nightmare During Xmas” edition of the song. It sounds a little as the soundtrack from a thriller really, real horror show. Well done, I never thought someone could turn a song like that on its head.
And on the subject of turning things on their heads, “Waiting on the Wings”, from “MOD”, gets a 2018 update, which at best sounds weird and too electronic. The take that “hook thieves” made a while ago must have been the blue print behind this, but it goes a step beyond and in all honesty I like this the least.
Not really what I expected after all these eleven years, from Lizzy Borden and unfortunately due to the likely modest budget and grand scope of an album as experimental such as this and a DIY sort of mentality the results are less than how impressive they could have been. Lizzy still does what he does pretty well, but it’s hard to tell, under all these layers and with a ton of “reprises” it only leaves about 8 songs of original material to account for all this time. I’m sure he can do better and he will, sooner rather than later.