Friday May 18 saw the kickoff of the Nocturnal Intrusion tour at Brick By Brick, a package which featured the rock n’ roll-tinged stylings of Cleveland’s Midnight, Virginia’s Bat, and Vancouver’s Wormwitch. All bands played in top form and hometown three-piece Impure Consecration acted as local support. I hadn’t seen the latter play in a long while but they’ve certainly improved. Their presence was much more cohesive, their sound mix was dialed in, and the songs were well-rehearsed. They could benefit from some loosening up onstage but overall their death metal darkness is growing stronger. Impure Consecration closed their set with a well-received cover of Destroyer 666’s, “Satanic Speed Metal.” 

      Shortly after, Wormwitch’s metal storm set fire to the energy Impure Consecration had kindled. Heads thrashed to the infectious, black-n-roll riffs from their debut album Strike Mortal Soil. Even the unreleased new song they introduced garnered thunderous reception! Wormwitch’s expressive showmanship converted crossed shoulders to raised fists over the course of their set. As if they hadn’t already been a wild band at Brick By Brick last year, they’ve become an even tighter killing machine since. The quartet soared with menacing speed, blackened melodies, and doom-laden hooks that kept vigorous momentum. 

      Bat was the perfect candidate to play next. Armed with new drummer Chris Marshall behind the kit, the power trio cranked out heavy, chugging thrash-punk as loud as it was fast. Axemen Ryan Waste and Nick Poulos constantly shredded shoulder-to-shoulder and back-to-back, making damn sure they kept the crowd moving and the pit whirling in the process. Their crushing combination of stage presence and rowdy tunes delivered punch after sonic punch.  

      Headliners Midnight were quick to maintain the evening’s intensity. After seeing them in opener slots for many years in California, watching them close the show was refreshing. The cowl-clad triumvirate instantly came out swinging with wild, physical antics and unleashed complete and total hell over San Diego. Athenar’s ruthless rasps pierced every skull in the venue with deafening noise and aggression. They composed a barbarous setlist with voracious cuts like, “Unholy & Oxycontin,” “You Can Sometimes Stop Steel,” and “Lust, Filth, & Steez” among others. Though Athenar’s rancid music has caught lightning in a beer bottle, Midnight’s punishing live spectacle continues to cement them as heralded lords of the underground.