September 27, 2022 Highly Suspect – The Midnight Demon Club (Album Review)
Originating in Massachusetts, Highly Suspect are one of the more unique Rock bands to emerge in the last decade. First starting as a covers band back in 2009, after some years of developing their sound, the band was prime for big things after some exposure to the masses when they toured with Chevelle in 2014. In fact, the very next year, 2015, was huge – they released the chart-topping singles “Lydia” and “Bloodfeather,” and their debut album, Mister Asylum, was a big success. Quickly returning in 2016 with the super impressive follow up The Boy Who Died Wolf, 2019’s MCID saw Highly Suspect test their boundaries further with some unique collaboration of sounds and other artists. All factors contributing to three-time Grammy Award-nominations, now in 2022 they return with their fourth studio album, The Midnight Demon Club.
Released on September 9th through their new label Roadrunner Records / FRKST, The Midnight Demon Club finds Highly Suspect pushing the envelope yet again. Having experimented with Rock, Hip Hop, and electronic sounds in past efforts, The Midnight Demon Club perfectly unites everything together showing the band are impossible to put in one box. Led by the powerfully soulful vocals of Johnny Stevens, aka “Terrible Johnny,” one of the boldest aspects of this new album is the striking lyrical content. In the past Johnny and company have shown they are not afraid of honesty; just look at songs such as 2016’s “My Name Is Human” or 2019’s “16” as just a couple of examples.
This in mind, Highly Suspects lyrical approach on The Midnight Demon Club is matched with often atmospheric soundscapes of heavy guitars, dreamy synth, and abnormal Rock beats, making for a fitting soundtrack for what it feels like to live in the modern world. What does this mean? It means Highly Suspect harnesses the pain of human suffering into their sound, and it is not at all shiny or clean…it is raw.
A shot to the mind in a world which often feels numbed by social media feeds, hypocrisy, and insincerity, The Midnight Demon Club strikes all the right nerves. Full of special moments, to name a few, you have the sorrowing opener “The Sound,” perfectly executed synth-driven “Ice Cold,” and the haunting title-track. This is accompanied by sorrowful “Caught on Fire,” a story about the empty and shallow in “New California,” but also the anti-status quo anthem “Cool Kids.”
In between it all there are plenty of other moments of hair-raising emotion both in Johnny’s vocal performance, but also the superb production of the entire band. In truth, you cannot help but relate to each of the lyrics shouted into the atmosphere. Why? Because it is about the hurt, we all feel from loss, our displacement from the societal machine, but also being sick and tired of being told who we should be or how we should think. It is about coming to terms with the fact that one day this will all be over, and saying, “I have had enough with worrying about trivial nonsense… I want to be the best version of myself!” Feeling like a weight lifted off your chest, inside the cathartic release that is The Midnight Demon Club, perhaps the most intense moment comes within “Pink Lullabye”; just listen and you will feel it.
All in all, The Midnight Demon Club is another powerful effort by Highly Suspect. The album is interesting from start to finish, easy to listen to, and a breath of fresh air. Thankfully there are still some artists out there like Highly Suspect who bring hope to the survival of Rock-n-Roll, and that is why Cryptic Rock gives The Midnight Demon Club 5 out of 5.