Album review: MAD MAX – Stormchild Rising

MAD MAX – Stormchild Rising

SPV Records [Release date 21.08.20]

The undoubted star of Mad Max’s umpteenth album is Michael Voss’s guitar. It provides blistering solos and fine textural detail, often in the space of a single track.

That’s nothing new, but it might be a surprise that Voss and his band have stuck to the same formula we’ve seen unfolding on previous albums.

Voss has been straight up honest, publicly declaring “if it ain’t broke etc etc”, though he reportedly chose a more diplomatic phrasing.

It’s unarguably true that not every rock fan wants his or her favourite band to explore new musical territory, and often just wants more of the same, only bigger and better.

By definition then, it spends a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror. And in that scenario, it’s the tracks that dare to be different, or go off tangentially, briefly, interestingly, if only for a few moments, that create the greatest impression.

‘Talk To The Moon’ begins along familiar lines, then reveals an elegantly contoured tune, underlined by Voss’s gracefully composed axework. There’s an emotional depth here too, not something we readily associate with hard rock. ‘Eyes of Love’ is a peach. It resurrects melodic rock finest moments, and might well remind you why you got into the genre in the first place.

Elsewhere on the album, there are a few too many we-need-to-save-the-world lyrics. It seems to be a common theme on so many rock albums now. They get a bit tiresome after a while. Makes you long for the days when bands were happy to sing about sex and drugs and rock’n'roll.

That said, ‘Mindhunter’ makes a decent fist at sociopolitical comments, and ‘Rain Rain’ pushes the traditional musical boundaries a bit, creating a welcome complexity that doesn’t always work inside a hard rock or heavy metal template.

It’s something of a mixed bag then, though fans of the band will find plenty to enjoy. ***

Review by Brian McGowan


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