St. Madness
'We Make Evil Fun!'

(Nasty Prick records)

MARK: 90/100



Probably the next big thing from the USA where they already boast a huge following, St. Madness release a best of after 4 CDs, fishing from their best repertoire and adding 6 unreleased tracks for an amount of over 78 minutes split in 20 tracks. They definitely point 50% of their impact on their theatrical Kiss-addicted image and the rest on the music, and usually such bands become top-sellers; Alice Cooper, Kiss, Slipknot, Marylin Manson, Murderdolls and so on are the primary examples to my theory, so give them a powerful label and wait and see where they'll get. For those who don't know this band yet I can say in a nutshell that this is one of the few not extreme bands to have participated the legendary 12th and 13th editions of the Milwaukee metalfest; they also performed with among others: Van Halen, King Diamond, Sacred Reich, Lynch Mob, Fates Warning, Destruction, Misfits, Six Feet Under, Flotsam & Jetsam, Mercyful Fate, Monster Magnet and Black Oak Arkansas. Things never happen randomly and believe me or not, almost all of those aforementioned musicians have kinda influenced the variegated style of the 5 stallions and during this roundup of successes you're gonna notice that as well.

Coming to the songs in detail, after a malignant intro, "Sounds from the Abyss", the CD introduces us to the first hit "No Mercy", gifted with a shaking entwining between riffs, drums and vocals in the vein of Gwar/Goddess of Desire; these last ones appear at their best in a crescendo that makes the chorus memorable; a thundering classy axe solo completes the picture.
A magical and demonic intro of a show compounds the beginning of "The Crown", based on a granitic main riff repeated on tribal drumwork; reverberated vocals pump the adrenaline out before the burst thru a Slayerian riff; the solo here included is short and the final vocals remind me of a bastard crossbreed between Blackthorne, Pantera and John Bush.
"Sexual Abuse" starts with a girl moaning in loop; the riff pays much to Armored Saint, even tho the vocals and the lyrics are unique and irresistible. There's a Judas Priest solo as well before the arena break and the first strophe repeated. This fast anthem destined to every porn and metal lover includes a Kiss refrain and what is more has been covered by popular punk rock act Guttermouth on 2000 Fearless records release "Punk Goes Metal".
Penetrating heavy rock with brutal vocals is what composes "Rage", a suitable opener for any wrestling match. One of my favorite songs; easy, in ya face and never boring.
Reversed vocals are utilised to commence "Evil Me", soon ripping our ears with a hard rock riff, becoming distorted and for some fractions reminding of the most aggressive Soundgarden or some Soil material; a Sabbathian riff precedes a great virtuoso solo and very high screams a là Virgin Steele; shame on the rhythmic section, too simple and repetitive here, however the final acceleration saves the song, deeply rooted in the new wave of British Heavy Metal (esp. Diamond Head), which is quite uncommon for a US band.
St. Madness change the cards on the table by starting with a very classic and controlled arpeggio rawly sung a là Vanden Plas, slowly bringing to a mid-tempo talking about a cannibalistic deed of love ("You Are My Food"), where the rhythmic section attacks while Prophet sings where only eagles dare (good are the back-up stereophonic vocal duets too). After the chorus and the splendid solo the guitars really become crushing, like the heaviest Metallica of the good ol' times. A pattern for all those who want to learn how to write a masterpiece of American metal.
Another arpeggio opens "When the Terror Comes", enriched by excellent John Bush's Anthrax vocals, Monster Magnet guitar plot and a remarkable sound quality; the delays of the guitars, alternated between distorted and melodic parts, and the explosion make this the candidate to the top amongst the 20 compositions.
"Dark Night of the Soul" is an intermezzo with guitar distorsions and sinister noises preparing for an energized cover of the Troggs' classic "Wild Thing".
Take Rob Halford's vocals, a few thrash metal riffs, a dark bridge, and you'll have an idea of the title track.
A lazy beginning characterizes "Here Comes the Judge", a Sabbathian song with jazzy passages; consider there're Iced Earth vocals and some even reminding of the latest Entombed; a strange song where some secundary crying vocals ain't that good, but damn! The axe solo surmounts all the others here presented, so thumbs up one more time.
A zoophile intro comes before the great "Love's Butcher Shop", including more than 2 wonderful ass-kicking riffs and blazing raw vocals. The solo can be put close to Satriani's yet the riffs are somehow halfway Kreator and Black Label Society! Excuse me if it's little but this song makes me spunk profusely.
A far flute anticipates the rocky riffing and drumming of "Insane"; once again the ghots of the latest Anthrax hovers; a straightforward but cooly effective song.

A frillless protest onslaught against the hyper-cholesteroled Bill Clinton rises after that the former President is announced. A Metallica speed metal is the spine of "God Bless America"; fast drums and John Bush/Phil Anselmo vocals rule but the neck break arrives with the Pantera slowdowned and downtuned riff; as Mr. Burns from the Simpsons is used to saying: "Excellent!".
While "Ice Pick" melts Slayer, Fight, D.R.I. and Macabre's folly, "Hey Joe" first proves to be a delicate cover of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and then suffered and heartfelt; top-notch performance of Dr. Frankenshred's guitar.
A tribute to the king seems to me "Evil Elvis", alternating stopped harsh parts even bringing me to imagine St. Madness as a metalized version of Vanilla Fudge for a short while! Nevertheless a slyly hypnotical refrain changes the style one more time like the guys are able to do so damn well; of course the song is full of stereotypes of Rock yet it remains another pleasant composition, whereas a real parody is "Prophet/Profit", made to open the eyes of too many suckers once and for all; too many US preachers still find too many sheep to squeeze without the authorities caring for that.
"We're All Going to Hell" is a groovy danceable song enclosing St. Madness's essence: swinging rock with classical riffs and a typical structure for a hard 'n' heavy song. I believe that those who claim rock is dead are completely blind, as an era of darkness like the early new Millennium hadn't been seen since the Middle Ages, therefore never like now do people need party-rock bands like this; check the booklet out and you'll surely agree with me.
By the way, the closure is actually entrusted with a hidden track, a funny excerpt from a radio dialogue where 3 people talk about the band, formerly known as Crown of Thorns; they had to change their name to St. Madness after their bloody, pyrotechnical, erotical and masked shows had created embarassment to a homonymous Christian rock band from New Jersey. Finally, an untitled wicked country song concludes the hostilities of a long CD playing long without you even realize.

The only defect I can notice is the guitarist's addiction to the scale E-D-C, which makes the songs too similar, but if you like American heavy music from Kiss to Slayer with powerful unforgettable vocals, you've found bread for your teeth. Evil should always sound that good!
P.s.: St. Madness just released a coupla DVDs, "Carnimetal" 1 and 2, each consisting of almost 2 hours of live and backstage footage. I strongly recommend the 2nd one, also featuring a supporting show for King Diamond and a bunch of easy busty girls, of which the best is the gorgeous one in the white dress by the way, and other characters like Bill Clinton, an evil Elvis and a hooded man. However, the 2nd DVD shows the new guitarist and a band less uneasy on stage, even if I think with 2 guitarists they'd have a stronger impact. Being a singer myself a small advice I feel I must give my colleague Prophet is not to equalize the microphone, especially not emphasize the middle range as the sound will turn out to be nasal and that's not suitable for a heavy metal band. Both DVDs are from Nasty Prick records as well.


Amendment One Management: Margie Johnson/Nasty Prick records
PO Box 11614, Scottsdale, Arizona 85271 - USA
T: +1 (480) 5778674 or +1 (480) 4239891

-Loneliness Is Black (1996)
-Spiritual Visions (1997)
-God Bless America (1998)
-Scare the World (2000)
-We Make Evil Fun (2003)
-Vampires in the Church (2006)

-Carnimetal 1 (DVD)
-Carnimetal 2 (DVD)