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Madhouse - Metal or Die

Metal or Die
by Chris Hawkins at 20 May 2018, 5:07 PM

Who would have imagined two or more decades ago how many elder statesmen of Metal would return for a renaissance of their career?  It's a testament to the very power of Metal and its self-replicating influence that such has been happening more and more of late.  It must also be empowering for both the younger and older spectrum of Metal fans as well to be able to gain new relevance.  MADHOUSE is yet another band enjoying the perpetual celebration of Metal and its longstanding popularity.  Theirs was a career started back in 1987 with a demo entitled "Goin' Crazy," but the band eventually split in 1991.  It was in 2014, though, that the members reunited to listen to the older material and plan to return.  "Metal or Die" marks their return and is indicative of a band poised to combine their legacy with newfound intentions in the effort to propagate their message of Metal solidarity.  It's not a reinvention of the wheel, but it's honest.

One cannot help but crack a smile while listening to MADHOUSE, for theirs is a sound steeped in classic tradition yet fueled by newfound purpose and enlightenment.  The first track of the album, "Against our Mind," opens with a huge slab of fat, juicy bass salaciously heralding what is to come as it is soon joined by palm-muted guitar to form a proper Metal anthem.  "Hellice," track three, starts with a Thrash riff and a very up-tempo pace and features a totally unexpected and unpredictable brutal breakdown during the chorus.  The picking pattern is decisively devious, original in its hybrid of style and brutality.  The sixth track, "Back in the Black," features that classic Speed Metal feel that simply grabs you, forcing you to crank it loud, drive fast, light a smoke, and chug your beer.  Playing on their experience of yesteryear is the eighth track, "One Way to Glory," steeped in the vibe of JUDAS PRIEST and especially HELLOWEEN.  The last track, "Psycho God," shows the band giving their very last bit of energy for the cause, and the very MAIDEN-like solo section is a welcome surprise.

One truly cannot help but get the impression of being in a race while listening to "Metal or Die."  It's hard to determine, though, whether it's a race against time or inspiration.  The momentum is never let up throughout the album's ten tracks, and after a second listen, one's ears are more accustomed to the band's style allowing the songs more ease with which to be listened to.  Unfortunately, the drum sound can only be classified as weird with its tin-sounding snare and lack of bass drum presence causing the overall sound to mirror that of something electronic.  The vocals are clean, traditional Heavy Metal, though come across as rough, exasperating, and nothing special.  The bass sound, however, is thankfully very up-front in the mix with its dirty, grindy sound and excellent fills.  The focus is clearly the guitars, and the two lead guitarists get the job done with a very warm sound as they harmonize well together.  While the music at times sounds like there is way too much going on, a jumbled effect, MADHOUSE have completed an album that is sure to please purists and die-hards with its Teutonic-take on classic Heavy Metal.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 5


3 Star Rating

1. Against our Mind
2. Gates of Hell
3. Hellice
4. Machinery
5. Tormentors
6. Back in the Black
7. Demons of Insanity
8. One Way to Glory
9. Metal or Die
10. Psycho God
Carsten Krekow – Guitars
Thomas Gamlien – Guitars
Paul Slabiak – Drums
Lars Rothbarth  – Bass
Didi Shark – Vocals
Record Label: Iron Shield Records


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Edited 23 March 2023

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