Midnight Lands is essentially Ben Averch, as he plays drums, percussion, bass, guitars, keyboards and loops as well as singing these twelves fantastic songs. He also wrote these songs, except for “Sea Break,” which is one for which Kat Manning contributed lyrics. Manning also created the spacey album artwork for Destroy the World. This is a great rock & roll album, during a time where even half-decent rock full lengths are become ever so difficult to come by.
Averch sings these songs with a vulnerable vocal tone. It’s a little wavery and hesitant in places. Such a factor might not work too well on American Idol, but in the world of quality rock & roll, in only makes him sound more passionate and convincing. Averch also plays a mean guitar. “Sea Break” includes guitar tones that may remind you of the best 80s post-punk music. On “Love To Give,” he adds a few screaming, Neil Young-like garage-y notes that propel the song to an even higher emotional level.
One called “Lost In Time” appears to reference the album’s artwork, as Averch sings about a “rocket ship that tumbles to the surface.” The album’s title track opens with a pounding drumbeat, which precedes Averch’s vocal. Although the chorus speaks of destroying the planet, one gets the immediate impression Averch’s thoughts are far more interpersonal. This is more of a heart issue, than anything science fiction-related, as is suggested by the album’s moonscape cover picture.
While most of these songs are screaming rock and rollers, “Blood From A Stone” is built upon an acoustic rhythm. “You can’t get blood from a stone,” Averch begins, “Is what they say when they stop trying.” This is like a folk song, it’s so darn quiet.
Destroy the World sounds so good because fine, classic rock-inspired albums just aren’t what the kids are into nowadays. Yes, Cardi B is an intriguing figure, but even good hip hop is more personality driven, than it is musically focused. Ben Averch sounds like he’s laying his heart on the line with each and every song on this album. This is not any sort of intellectual effort, even though it’s smart. Instead, it’s emotional to the point of feeling a little uncomfortable. Maybe Averch wants listeners to feel a little uneasy. If he’s going to lay all his cards on the table, then the listeners are going to need to also invest a little emotion into accessing his album. It is how great rock has always been made, from Buddy Holly’s true love ways, to Bowie’s spacey soul searching, to The Clash’s lost in the supermarket punk rock, and on up till today.
Yes, it may be a little premature to speak about Midnight Lands in the same breath as Holly, Bowie and The Clash, but Destroy the World includes many of the elements that turned all those folks into musical icons. Fans and musicians could learn a few things from Ben Averch. It may be tempting to look all cool playing rock & roll. But coolness only goes so far. As with many of the aforementioned icons, quality music is
eternal, and Midnight Lands has created music that will last a long, long time.