Mad Max – “Stormchild Rising” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Battle Helm Rating
With the ever growing uncertainly caused by the global pandemic, it’s nice to know that some things can be counted on in being the same. During Mad Max’s last tour in support of “35”, it soon became evident from talking to their fans in many countries that there was little they wanted in the way of experimentation, but rather keeping to the tested formula in the kind of songs that Mad Max have been known for since 1981. Acknowledging their fans’ vociferous demands for melodic hard rock characterised by deep and powerful riffs, passionate singing and a punchy rhythm, “Stormchild Rising” is manifest in that regard across its 12 tracks, while Kai Brockschmidt’s (Pretty Maids, Pink Cream 69 etc) cover art reflects the album’s overall concept about a warrior who battles for everything good in the world, not with weapons but with rock songs! With that in mind, it’s nice to know that founders Michael Voss (vocals/guitar) and Jürgen Breforth (guitar) have still afforded some pleasant surprises to their loyal fans whether it’s Paul Shortino guesting on the Rough Cutt cover of ‘Take Her’, Stryper guitarist Oz Fox guesting on ‘The Blues Ain`t No Stranger’ or the 2 versions of ‘Ladies And Gentleman’ featuring a German take recorded with children’s song star Detlev Jöcker and students of a German music school in April 2020, or the English-language original recorded with typical Mad Max attitude and style. With all cylinders firing on ‘Hurricaned’, it’s immediately obvious from the hard rocking Rainbow inspired riffs and power melodies backed by Axel Kruse’s pistoning double bass drums that this song is indeed homage to them, and with another generous surprise in Ronnie Romero sharing the vocals with Voss to double the passion and excitement along with plenty of soulful lead breaks and wailing solos cap off this opener brilliantly – and that’s just for starters! ‘Gemini’ soon follows and proves why, close to 40 years in the game, Mad Max’s fans know exactly what want from the song’s monster swaggering riffs pumping red blooded hard rock around your body to its flowing melodies soaring straight into your soul and a massive shouted out chorus making this song nothing short of a knock out. Slowing it down but getting heavier and even deeper on ‘Kingdom Fall’, Voss’s soft vocals contrast with Kruse’s hard snare matching the guitars alternating between crunching hard rock riffs and alluring melodic chimes, while the wailing solos have the essence of beauty about them irrespective of the tempo, thus attesting to Mad Max’s superior musicianship. In a pandemic world of continuing uncertainty, “Stormchild Rising” is the one constant providing a welcoming assurance.