Despite nicking a line from Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Are you here for crucifixion?), the opening track to Monstrocity, Detroit rock institution Madam X’s long-awaited new album, Resurrection, lets you know in no uncertain terms that this is a deadly serious return to action.
I hate the term, but seriously, this is kick-ass heavy metal music. Second track Monstrocity takes up where the opener left off, reminding you in the process just what a fantastic drummer Roxy Petrucci is, how adept her sister Maxine is on the six strings and – and I’d completely forgotten this – just what a vocal powerhouse Brett Kaiser is. The man’s pipes simply smoke throughout, lending weight to the suspicion that Monstrocity as an album is just so much more than a limp hair metal exercise in nostalgia.
Nitrous is frankly superb, gonzoid heavy metal once again built on the adamantine solidity of Roxy and bassist Chris Doliber (thankfully, as far as I can tell sans those appalling leather chaps he used to wear back in the day), replete with big chorus and even bigger leads from Maxine. It is, in a word, magnificent.
Freak Parade might have worked in the mid eighties but isn’t so effective now, but the excellent Die Trying picks things up a little. Hello Cleveland continues the good work.
Things really start looking up again on the excellent, up-tempo Big Rock Rolls Heavy, with Kaiser again delivering an immaculate vocal performance. Seriously, he sings himself into the ground on this album, leaving anyone who might have suggested that a reformed Madam X might have worked better with Sebastian Bach at the vocal helm with serious amounts of albumen dripping from their sheepish-looking visages. Detroit Black is a cocky strut of a song with a simple yet effective chorus, but it’s the next song that is probably the standout on the album.
The Rise is a seething, crawling, fetid exercise in glorious heaviness, based around a churning main riff and yet another compelling vocal performance. Again, I don’t remember this band ever sounding this good first time round – the ageing process has obviously done them every favour possible!
Good Stuff is feelgood, singalong metal of the highest order, but it’s very brilliance makes the following track, the obligatory ballad Wish You Away look just a little bit lame and unnecessary. It’s not bad – but it’s the only time on the album where you become aware of the vintage of the band you’re listening to.
Perhaps inevitably, the band revisit their most famous song – High in High School – and, also inevitably, fail to improve on the ridiclous brilliance of the original. The album is brought to a close by the Alice Cooperish Bride of Frankesntein which is high on style but doesn’t pack quite as much substance.
Good stuff, then, with the front-end of the album containing enough high quality material to compensate for the slight tail off at the end. I wasn’t expecting Monsrocity to be anywhere near as good as it turned out to be, so that’s a result in itself. Worth a listen!
Madam X will release Monstrocity through EMP on November 3rd.