CDs: Madside – Madside
Just when you thought that the music that
has widely become known as "alternative metal" had fallen off the map due
to an over abundance of mediocre bands, Madside comes along to give the
genre a good swift kick in the ass!
When done right, alt-met can be a powerful
tour de force combining the best explosive elements of both genres. When
done by the major label trend mongering machine it can be dull and repetitive.
The big news with Madside is they are neither on a major label nor dull
and repetitive. In other words, they do it up right.
Now for a word of warning; Those with an
aversion to commercially viable rock probably will find this CD a little
too slick around the edges. To others therein lies the biggest strength
of this band, their ability to rock hard, employ experimentation but still
be radio friendly without going too far in that quest.
Let's get to the songs now, shall we?
Madside hit a homer right from the start with the lead off track "Sinking
In". The alt-metal crunch mixes with a driving beat and then the real superstar
of this show, vocalist Mike Mathis, comes in with his powerful, yet melodic
delivery to seal the deal. I found myself grooving right along with the
first listen and that doesn't happen very often.
These guys aren't slackers and never let
up momentum as the album progresses. They impress on quite a few levels.
A solid rhythm section leads the way for some outstanding guitar leads,
it's not Steve Vai, but it's not overly redundant downtuned power-chords
either. These guys definitely understand the old school value of a unadulterated
lead riff to carry a song into musical battle. Again Mathis, really puts
these guys over the top with his mix of classic heavy alt-rock tone with
the best elements of nu metal scream.
Madside like to mix it up a bit too. The
first big example of this is the third track "Ammunition", with it's soft
intro and driving verses and non traditional song structure and choruses.
This isn't a verse chorus verse song.
The band puts all the skills in their bag
of tricks into the first single "Enemy". While this isn't the best song
on this album, it is a worthy showcase of the key elements to Madside's
sound and a clear demonstration of their songwriting skills.
The next track "Deny" is my personal favorite.
The light to heavy structure on this song is flawless, and the melodic
hook of the chorus is masterfully down without delving into redundancy.
"Blame" falls into Finger Eleven territory which isn't bad place to be.
"Never Enough" starts with a virtual wall
of sound and then leads to a semi tribal verses only to pound you over
the head with the choruses. The transitions employed here are unassailable.
"Don't Care" gives us a slightly different take on this formula but doesn't
suffer the fate of sounding like a duplication.
"Face It" finds Madside launching into
radio friendly modern rock territory. My money is on this one as
a single because it is a surefire radio hit and it really shows a different
side of the band, but it also may be a double edge sword and give people
the wrong about these guys.
The next track, "I See Nothing," shows
Madside building a song around a driving guitar rift. A cool track, but
it's not as dynamic as the earlier songs. The band finish strong
with "Lesson", the varying elements between the traditional nu-metal chorus
and the trippy verses shows those major label pretenders how to do this
genre right. Although is it probably the closest this band comes to textbook
In the final analysis, these Redding California
rockers deliver a rock-solid debut that is both compelling and commercially
viable without being too beholden to the formulaic tendencies that makes
most bands in this genre dull and uninspired.
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