I’m not sure where the title 35 comes from – Germany’s Mad Max have been going a bit longer than thirty five years and this is some way short of their thirty fifth release, so there must be forces way more esoteric at work here than my beer-addled mind can cope with.
I’ve actually been listening to Mad Max for thirty four years now, having come to the party for the band’s brilliant Rollin’ Thunder album in 1984, and, though I’d have to say they’ve had their highs and lows over that time, overall the band have come to represent dependable, shock-free hard rock in all its packaged rebellion-toting glory.
35 is no different, of course, although it’s actually one of the band’s strongest latter day releases. Michael Voss sounds ridiculously spritely up front for a man who has been doing this through four decades, his voice still carrying the youthful rasp of Jon Bon Jovi and the melodic punch of Joey Tempest, and his knack for an absolute banger of an AOR rocker is clearly still there.
The recently-released single Beat of the Heart and D.A.M.N. are both absolutely immense slices of late-eighties styled Euro hard rock, easily up there with the best that genre has to offer. Meanwhile Snowdance, heavier and faster, takes you right back the band’s earliest days as spandex-clad metalheads. It’s done with aplomb, mind, never sounding forced or overdone in any way. It’s classy melodic metal, no more, no less.
The rest of the album isn’t quite so vibrant, though as noted above this is Mad Max so the quality of the ‘also ran’ material is pretty high, with the road-dog paean Rocky Road in particular almost reaching true greatness, mixing names like Bon Jovi, Scorpions and Blackfoot to great effect. Not many bands can pull this sort of schtick off in 2018 and come through unscathed, but the sheer honesty of the band shines through and nullifies any post-modernistic carping. Even for the whistling bit at the end of the song…
At the end of the day, however long they’ve been going, and how ever many albums they’ve managed to release over time, Mad Max deserve recognition for their commitment to quality hard rock. They are true craftsmen, masters of their art, and 35 is another welcome addition to their canon.
35 is out today.