Released: 2012, SPV
It is no secret that some of the key factors in the longevity of certain Metal bands are the passion and drive of the artists and fans. There are certain bands that avoid trends, ignore the fads, and continue on year after year, with or without commercial success. They continue to write, record and tour because, like us they love Metal. I would hazard a guess that at this point 30 years into a career, it’s not about the fame and fortune. I happened to notice that recently seven classic bands have reached (or are about to reach) their 30th anniversary and all of them have put our new, full-length studio albums in the past few months. 30 years is a long time in any career, especially one as fickle as the Rock ’n’ Roll business. This month, I decided to pay tribute to these fine bands in a feature where I review all their most recent releases. As of 2012, most of these bands have little or no representation on this site, and I’m here to fix that. It’s hard to imagine that almost 30 years ago, as a teenager, I was buying the debut albums of all of these bands, on cassette! The bands in this feature are Burning Starr (US), Exxplorer (US) Halloween (US), Mad Max (Ger), Oz (Fin), Sinner (Ger), Vengeance (Hol). They are the unsung, heads-down, in the trenches, Metal veterans that emerged in the very early 80’s, and are still going strong. They deserve your respect and attention.
Mad Max actually released an album called HEAVY METAL in 1982. They must have been the first to do that and with that bold declaration of purpose they been churned out three more albums as an early signing of Roadrunner Records. I bought them all on cassette and enjoy them all. They took a 10 years hiatus and have been pretty productive lately with six albums in the past decade or so culminating with their new full-length slab of music called ANOTHER NIGHT OF PASSION. The title is a reference to their 4th album, NIGHT OF PASSION from 1987, probably their most commercially successful and most recognized collection of tunes.
I’ve said it many times before ten albums is a pretty good benchmark and testament to a bands longevity and productivity. The lineup in the second phase of the bands career has been remarkably stable with just a couple of drummers coming and going and now Mad Max is rejoined with longtime drummer Alex Kruse. Even though technically, guitarist Jurgen is the only remaining member this is the classic lineup of Voss (vocals), Bergmann (bass) and Kruse (drums) dating back to 1985. There is something to be said about friends making music, the enthusiasm and fun shines through and ANOTHER NIGHT OF PASSION is a really fun record. Of all the bands in this feature Mad Max are probably the most melodic and hard rock centered. They recall bands like Scorpions, Pretty Maids, Bonfire, Charade and other bands of that era.
I’ve always felt that Mad Max (kinda like Bonfire) has pandered just a bit to the American audience in search of that long elusive, breakout hit in America. The last album was called WELCOME AMERICA, the album before that had a song called ‘Say Goodbye to Hollywood’ and the new album starts off with a song called ‘Rocklahoma’. The band has played the famous Music Festival a couple of times and even though I’ve never been to Rocklahoma, this song captures the essence and energy of that festival perfectly. The chorus is instantly memorable and that’s the sign of a great song. I can see the thousands of fans singing this one, next time the band plays there.
The bands secret weapon is Michael Voss on vocals, he is so underrated as a vocalist. His smooth pipes and enthusiastic delivery are a driving force for all the songs. There are tons of good backup vocals as well in almost every tune. Check out his signing on ‘The Chant’, a great performance. The whole band is tight and fun as they run through these 11 cuts of melodic Metal. Almost every song has a big sing-along chorus that would work well in any concert setting. An exception might be the short final cut, ‘ True Blue’ an instrumental featuring some really elegant soloing. It’s a nice way to end the record. Elsewhere on ANOTHER NIGHT OF PASSION, it’s the foot on the gas on the way to the party.
I can see why Mad Max may be chasing fame and fortune in America, anyone of these songs could have been a hit in the US in the late 80’s. They just have that fun in the sun California sound that oddly enough several German groups do so well. ANOTHER NIGHT OF PASSION is yet another great album in the bands long and admirable career.