|Review: Mad Max - Stormchild|
Label: Roadrunner Records
Year released: 1985
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: February 12, 2010
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
Rated 3.25/5 (65%) (8 Votes)
It's always neat to have uber-rare albums. Every metal fan can proudly spout off the rarest albums in his or her collection, having a story about each one. Oftentimes though, rareness does not mean greatness. I've come to learn this lesson over and over again. History repeats itself, I guess. A few weeks ago, while sorting through the metal bin at the local used CD store, I came across an album that looked right up my alley. It was some band I'd never heard of called Mad Max. Looking at the extraordinarily absurd, yet undeniably metal cover art, I knew I had all too serious old school metal on my hands. It was from 1985 and on Roadrunner, so how bad could it be? This was worth the risk. I dropped nineteen bucks on what I later discovered was their third album: Stormchild, and while it may not have been worth so much, buyer's remorse isn't clouding my mind, either.
This is straight up German traditional metal, in the vein of The Scorpions and Accept. No experimentation, no frills fist pumping anthems. These songs are generic, sometimes painfully so, but sometimes they're catchy – and I mean really catchy. The gang chanted chorus and ultra-simple riff of the opener "Never Say Never" is about as infectious as music gets. Heartfelt songs like the ballad "Lonely is the Hunter" and "Heroes Die Lonely" stand out as vivid emblems of a forgotten era of music. Frankly, the later songs are just as catchy, but all the same. It does get a bit boring after a while, but listening to one or two songs at a time captures the simple-minded fun central to so many German metal bands of the time period. Singer and guitarist Michael Voss has an almost comforting feel to his midrange; you can hear the glee in his voice as he sings. He doesn't have a spectacular range, but he knows how to work with what he does well. You won't get any complexity here, but you'll get lots and lots of fun.
But c'mon, this music is almost as simply constructed as innocuous pop music that is so frequently –and deservedly – lambasted. Of course, I like this more because it's metal, and that's the style I enjoy, but I can't help but feel a guilty conscience about it at the same time. This music is really simple, and let's face it – pretty dumb. Just like most really dumb music, this stuff gets old fast, and by the end of the album, becomes staid and uninteresting. The same direction is followed each time, and each song is very formulaic with unmemorable soloing.
This is tried and true traditional metal, but it's as formulaic as it gets. This is more generic than the most tired releases from The Scorpions. Even so, if you like German-styled metal from the early 80s, then this foreign gem is worth your while...just maybe not the nineteen bucks I shelled out for it.
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