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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Mad Max manage to keep it vital on 35

HOLY shitballs - but when Mad Max formed we were a mere 16-years-old - which sort of came home when they named their latest release '35'.

But no-one seems to have told the German rockers that after that length of time they should be kicking back and looking towards more relaxing times...

Instead '35' is a testimony as to why no band - or for that matter individual - should measure their output by some arbitrary measurement of time.

Despite their (band) vintage this release has all the vitality of what hard rock was about in the 1980s and still sounds fresh in 2018  - just take the energy oozing from 'Goodbye To You' with its frenetic opening pace and well-spaced soundscape that will have listeners chanting "She's A Radical" along with the band.

This Steamhammer/SPV release is bursting with tunes that will have heads nodding and the likes of 'Thirty 5' will surely be live favourites with its brooding mid-pace menace and acknowledgement of their road so far.

And, unlike many other bands they have the guts to say upfront about their influences - they might have had some reservations about the overtly Extreme influence on 'Snowdance' but they were right to include it.

Equally - the bonus track 'Paris Is Burning' is a cover of the Dokken song - with the blessing of Don Dokken himself - that is both faithful to the original and has the Mad Max stamp too.

Michael Voss' vocals sound fresh and passionate - especially on 'Rocky Road', their tale of the highs and lows of being a long-enduring band.

But, it is the cohesiveness of the sound created by Voss, J├╝rgen Breforth (guitar), Axel Kruse (drums) and Thomas “Hutch” Bauer (bass) that makes this such an enjoyable listen.

In the accompanying blurb to this release Breforth explained why they stay so fresh with an album packed with great songs.

“We’ve never produced a new album just because a record company asked us to or because it was supposedly high time to come up with a new recording,” he said.

“For us the all-decisive question before every production is merely: Do we still have enough ideas for an album that we as well as our fans will get excited about? Only if everybody involved agrees on that point will we begin to work.”

Among the stand-outs that must have everybody picking up their instruments is 'D.A.M.N. (Devil's After Me) which has an energy few can equal, with lyrics by Jason Smith and Breforth.

But the most significant track is 'Beat Of The Heart'. Reflecting the band's previous hit 'Night Of Passion' it has all the elements that make a great song - this really is classic rock in the best sense of the phrase.

It would be easy to discount bands like Mad Max in 2018 - but you know what, so long as they keep releasing albums like this they'll remain as important as the heroes they had that made them first pick up their instruments.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

35 is released on Steamhammer/SPV on August 10th

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