Quick plays: MAD MAX, BLACK TRIP

BLACK TRIP – Shadowline
SPV www.spv.de [Release date 28.08.15]

Drawing heavily on the influences of very early Maiden and other NWOBHM band of that era and ilk, Sweden’s Black Trip have followed up 2014’s “Goin’ Under” with new release “Shadowline”. Whilst the execution isn’t bad, there is sadly not enough memorable material here to suggest that this album will bother any other than die-hard fans of that epoch.

Nostalgia isn’t a bad thing if it’s done right but just re-gurgitating, without expanding on, one’s influences is going to make the road to stardom a tough slog.

Until eight tracks into the album, when “Subvisual Sleep” grabs the attention (a bit….), “Shadowline” doesn’t offer much to inspire a third or fourth spin. Perhaps channeling some of the anger and passion behind the vocals in “The Storm” – also a fairly ear-catching track – would help but otherwise, this album falls short on originality.

Lots of early Lizzy-esque twin-guitaring but, really, that has all been done before and is very effective when providing punch to quality songs. The tunes on this album all seem a bit formulaic and very similar. The production lacks crispness and clarity and these songs would perhaps be of passing interest as Diamondhead or Lizzy outtakes/B sides which never made the album. These guys can play alright but need to craft better songs if this is their chosen path.  **1/2

Review by Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw

MAD MAX – Thunder, Storm & Passion

MAD MAX – Thunder, Storm & Passion
SPV www.spv.de [Release date 28.08.15]

Nostalgia trips abound these days to varying effect and Mad Max have gotten themselves on the bandwagon by releasing “Thunder, Storm and Passion”. This is essentially a re-recorded Best Of collection which documents “classics” from their 1984-87 album releases Rollin’ Thunder, Stormchild and Night of Passion – you see what they did there, who says Germans don’t have a cunning sense of humour ?

There is some pedigree here in terms of the more-or-less peripheral associations of Mad Max members Michael Voss (lead guitar and vocals), Axel Kruse (drummer), Jurgen Breforth (guitar)….read ‘em – Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock, Axel Rudi Pell, Casanova, Jaded Heart, Doro, King Kobra, Gary Barden….Admittedly, most of these relate to Voss’ various roles as guest guitarist, engineer, mixer, producer, vocalist, etc, and is perhaps indicative of a case of “not who you know, but what you know”.

They clearly have known many of the right people making waves in the German rock scene over the years but this re-issued collection comes across as dated, a bit clichéd and not very memorable. I was a big NWOBHM fan back in the early ‘80s and I honestly don’t remember these guys having a “hey-day” despite a run of several albums, big Euro-rock stadium tours and being Metallica and King Diamond label-mates at one point.

There are very minor flashes and memories of what made bands like MSG and Saxon great back in the day but just not enough of those in this collection. In fact, save for those who spent the ‘80s standing in muddy European festival fields, waiting for The Scorpions and mildly enjoying the band playing the 5.30pm slot and singing about “heroes dying lonely” and “not wanting to die”, it’s not clear to me who this re-issue would be aimed at.

There is everything you would expect from a NWOBHM-influenced band – twiddly solos, thumping drums, slightly menacing riffs and a decent vocal but, overall, it just lacks quality and cleverness – except for decent production on the re-recording, it sounds like it’s from three decades ago. There was some absolutely top quality material from that era – this just wasn’t amongst it.

Again, nothing wrong with nostalgia but to use it and be valid today, like clothing fashions coming back around, it has to have a twist – how about “Nostalgia Works Okay But Hone The Music”.  **

Review by Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw

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Each week David Randall presents ‘New to GRTR!’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, with the emphasis on independent artists and labels. During December he replays favourite tracks including power plays featured during the year. This show covers the period January-March and was first broadcast on 1 December 2019.

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Throughout December we are featuring Best of 2019 selections from the GRTR! Reviewers.

Featured Albums w/c 25 November (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 Melodic Rock Featured Albums of 2019
12:00-13:00 Melodic Hard Rock Featured Albums of 2019
14:00-16:00 Singer Songwriter Featured Albums of 2019

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

A selection of albums featured in 2019

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