Midnight’s Athenar Plays His Favorite Bass Riffs
Midnight may provide a darker metal sound, but you'll find that mastermind Athenar actually has a pretty varied background when it comes to his instrument. The masked bassist takes us through some of the riffs that helped form his musical tastes, while also showing off a few of his own favorites from the Midnight catalogue.
Like many musicians of his age, Athenar found something intriguing in KISS as a youngster. Who didn't want to be Gene Simmons as a kid? He recalls, “The first song that I learned to play on a bass was ‘Firehouse’ by KISS." Athenar says he only got a little way into the song, as part of it was quite confusing, but the part he did learn, he owned it. "Those first notes were just enough for me to play. I was like, ‘Fuck I can play just like Gene Simmons.’ That was plenty enough for me to be satisfied with that," he says.
Athenar fell in love with Simmons' bass slides and says the combination of Gene Simmons and Iron Maiden's Steve Harris really shaped his early playing. "Steve Harris has an aggressive style of attacking the instrument. That’s what really appealed to me, was the bass, you could attack it like a drum and not like a Van Halen type of guitar. You could really pound on it,” says the bassist, who also plays a bit of "Number of the Beast," at least as he hears it.
Other bass influences include Lemmy of Motorhead, initially finding the band on their '86 Orgasmatron album. He also cites Cronos of Venom, rocking a bit of "The Witching Hour" and praising how they worked as a trio. “The thing with Venom, it is those three guys, you take one element out of that and it’s just totally different. They even said that themselves. So when you have those three guys, who knows what’s going to happen. Especially at that time when they were 19 years old and playing a form of music that didn’t have any rules or boundaries, they had no idea what was going to go on. So why play tight when you can just play loose?”
For something a little more mainstream, he expresses his love for Geddy Lee, especially the 2112 album, where he pulls out several riffs. And, of course, Metallica's Cliff Burton, rocking a bit of "Orion" as well.
As for his own music, Athenar takes us into "Hot Graves," the first track he ever wrote for Midnight. Also, for newer fans, he digs into the Rebirth by Blasphemy record, laying down some "Fucking Speed and Darkness" and the Maiden-esque "The Sounds of Hell." "It’s just rock and roll," says Athenar. "1, 4, 5 type of chords. Just trying to make some heavy metal out of happy sounding chords is kind of difficult I think, but it’s fun nonetheless.”
Top 30 Black Metal Albums of All-Time