St. Madness
'Vampires in the Church'

(Nasty Prick records)

MARK: 85/100



Ladies and gentlemen, after 3 years of labor the world's heaviest party band is back in the ring with its sixth album, comprising 14 new songs and a rather faithful cover and tribute song in honor of the late Dimebag Darrell, Pantera's "Walk", and a generous 16-page booklet.
Tho the style hasn't changed too much in comparison to "We Make Evil Fun", but one can rapidly notice that the songwriting has been improved, as well as the solo accuracy and the extension and power of leader Prophet's voice. I absolutely love his vocals and style and how couldn't I to somebody singing like an emule of the best Ozzy Osbourne, yet with the lungs of an operistic professional (or Candlemass's Messiah Marcolin to remain within the metal world), and as raw and plucky as the most athletic Thrash metal vocalist? Not enough stress has been put on how important a singer may be; they may turn a fairly good song to an awesome one if they know how to properly use pauses, fit in the words on the beats and all the more if they own a voice distinguishable among 1,000. This is actually one of those cases. As you may read further, I don't mean to diminish the other members' qualities, nevertheless it is as plain as a pikestaff that 70% of the success of this record is due to his performance, a notch above the average, as pointed out for example in the title track, enriched by mordant and up-to-date lyrics), or in the following "Speaking in Tongues".

The album is long and various and therefore not heavy to listen to, so expect tracks like "Arizona", a melodic composition in the vein of Tommy Lee making each and every American proud of their nation. It doesn't exist a more Star-S
pangled song than this; whenever I listen to that I feel a crazier and crazier desire for spending a vacation in the new continent so as to visit the Canyon De Chelley, the Grand Canyon and the Monument Valley. Moreover, this groovy song is particularly suitable for a video and the A-side of a 7" single.
Continuing with the album, just afterwards here's another Yankee song, "Covered in Blood Again", recurring to a slide and fully soaked with the bible-belt states atmosphere.
Tracks such as "Carl the Clown" are on the contrary pure TNT and rigorously have to be listened to at high volume; fabulous drum parts precede an unexpected twisted ending.
Also "Head" is a masterpiece, a masterpiece that Ozzy wished he had written; excellent melodic lines, refrain and guitar licks.
To speak in plain English, not all the tracks are party or relatively happy songs, since there comes a moment to cure our souls with a moving piece that really gives me the thrills: "Ever After": powerful, magic, gifted with lots of feeling, a great axe solo, this one has something in common with Fight's "War of Words", nevertheless at the same time mantains a marked St. Madness's footprint. Immense suite of over six minutes!
"Missing Girl's Body Found" is sheer Thrash metal holocaust, containing Prophet's evilest vocals, who also wrote rightful lyrics I totally agree with, raising an issue unfortunately common in several Western judicial systems. To speak the truth I believed it was common in Europe but not in the USA, that I always reputed stricter to serious criminals all the more because they are the only Western country with death penalty, but it seems that lassism and sentence reductions are making way there too, and it's a shame...
Going back to the music side, another Speed Thrash chip is "I Cut Myself", which could be described as a harder version of Motorhead, but it's with bittersweet tracks such as "Expressionless" that the Arizonian act gives its best; lyricwise this is a hymn exposing the pathological stadiums achived by women especially but not only, undergoing a great deal of aesthetic operations; this addiction slow leads them towards uncultivating their intelligence and souls, becoming insecure and never accepting their exteriorities to the point of not realizing they look like dolls or disfigured people who had to go under aesthetic surgery many times for serious reasons.
Brutal Bay Area Thrashy riffs again in "Kill", also including a gloomy break and a closing lively solo, both in order to make the song less foreseeable. Ardent and tight riffs make up "Until Death", whereas the closure is entrusted with "Just Say Goodbye", a fairly different track compared to the Scottsdale combo standards.Once again Rob Halford's solistic stuff comes to my mind melted with Lordi and System of A Down.

Even tho there are only three real highlights, you can be sure this platter contains no fillers. The Arizonians seem to be a very prolific group gifted with the smartness of the strictest self-judges, the one compeling them to select only their best tracks to end on their albums and this policy has decidedly allowed them to deserve the palm of top band of the Nasty Prick Records roster.
"Vampires in the Church" is a record that shouldn't be absent from most rockers' and metalheads' discographies and the previous albums from these experienced face-painted musicians are loud enough to raise Cain and the other dead as well!. Then some of you might be wondering why they still didn't land on a big label. Let there be no mistake about it! This hasn't happened so far just because they missed some good luck and maybe also cos they came out too late when this genre was not so popular any longer as two decades before because of Grunge's advent; as if it wasn't enough, Prophet' and Co.'s style currently has to face a larger competition and a forest of releases often confusing and disorienting fans.
But of course the quintet ain't worried by that and stops at nothing; be sure it will still be here kicking our asses and enjoying groupies for many years to come! Long live these cult metalheads!

MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 2nd December, 2006

Current line-up:
Prophet, lyrics, v.
Dark Soul, d.
Altar Boy, lead g.
Mad Marvin, rhythm g.
Uno Mosh, b.

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

-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)