MIDNIGHT PHANTOM – Murder On 42nd Street (2023)
After their two very enjoyable melodic hard rock albums, now we have here the new offering from two-man hard rock / hair metal project MIDNIGHT PHANTOM, titled “Murder On 42nd Street“. Hailing from Hannover, the German epicenter of ’80s hard rock, MIDNIGHT PHANTOM consists of Christian Heimbucher on all instruments as well as songwriting, while Stephan Wsintek takes care of main vocal duties and melody writing.
Inspired by their hometown heroes Scorpions as well as other ’80s bands such as Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, they startet Midnight Phantom in 2018 – a homage to the late Eighties fun rock music.
However, MIDNIGHT PHANTOM aren’t in it for nostalgia, they really love this musical genre (US glammy hard rock / hair metal) and add their own touch, at places quite edgy, heavier.Overall, their sound is between DOKKEN, ICON, AUTOGRAPH, and QUIET RIOT.
It’s clear with the opening track that these boys know how to construct a catchy melody: ‘Danger Zone’ reminds me in parts of AUTOGRAPH’s song ‘Loud & Clear’ with a slightly slower tempo. Open power chords in the verses and melodious background vocals in the chorus. Familiar, but performed in a way that is still thrilling to listen to!
That’s just the beginning. With thirteen tracks, there are some strong songs that harkens back to that 80s melodic rock vibe beloved by many. ‘Eyes of Medusa’, ‘Starting All Over Again’, and the title track are three standouts for me that I found myself repeating several times before moving onto the next tracks on the album.
That engaging title track, placed at the end of the album, is something quite special. A great high-energy song that is distinct from everything else showcased here. It’s clear why the band decided to name the album after it. It is sure to be the song that people will think of when their name comes up in conversation.
Some other standouts are the ballads. The power ballad ‘Always Remember’ has some great lyrics involving nostalgia and familial ties. ‘Dream of You’ is also a power ballad with a great feel for longing and sorrow and is cathartic in the way that only a power ballad can be.
Finally, the acoustic ballad ‘Tonight’ has the best use of layered background vocals in the chorus, very Def Leppard inspired.
A few other tracks worth mentioning are the heavily-influenced Van Halen track ‘Girl From MTV’. The opening is a practical re-creation of the beginning of ‘Hot for Teacher’ with what follows having that same similar groove, with a few more time changes and horns and pianos added.
‘The Final Anthem’ is instrumental, similar in tone to what Steve Stevens did for the Top Gun Soundtrack. At under three minutes, it does not overstay its welcome and breaks things up a bit with its inclusion.
With many of the tracks, you can point out exactly what band they were inspired by when creating the respective songs. I have no problem with that when it is done this well. Yeah, it’s done on budget, and with a big production could sound better, but believe me, this way “Murder On 42nd Street” has that special indie charm.
We can see this project growing into a full band soon and being picked up by a major label in the near future.
Pure ’80s vibe. HIGHLY Recommended
01 – Danger Zone
02 – Rock ‘N’ Roll Time Machine
03 – Peacemaker
04 – Always Remember
05 – Eyes Of Medusa
06 – Night Stalker
07 – Dream Of You
08 – Starting All Over Again
09 – When The Cats Are Away
10 – Girl From MTV
11 – Tonight
12 – The Final Anthem
13 – Murder On 42nd Street
Stephan Wsintek: Lead & Backing Vocals
Christian Heimbucher: Guitar, Bass, Drums, Keys, Backing Vocals