Anytime I hear the term “industrial” combined with hard rock or metal I tend to cringe. Likewise, I tend to tune out Los Angeles bands since the Sunset Strip, hair metal 80s. This may be why I hadn’t heard of Madlife prior to the release of its fourth studio effort, “21st Century Megalomaniac“ which was released May 14.
The quartet has released two previous EPs and one full length studio effort since 2005. The band was created by vocalist Angry Phill and guitarist Isaiah Stuart over a decade ago. The unit would later be rounded out by the rhythm section of Kyle Cunningham on drums and bassist Carlos Pagan.
Madlife list artists like Korn, Rammstein, and Nine Inch Nails among their influences. I’m not a fan of industrial or nu metal so I was truly surprised when I cranked this EP up and heard five songs packed with infectious grooves, tight rhythms and big hooks. To me it sounded more like Slipknot meets Avenged Sevenfold than Mushroomhead or Linkin Park.
Phill sinks the hook on the album opener, “Just One Gun” asking, “Would you like to sing that angry song with me?” While there is a little bit of an industrial feel with some electronica slipped in, this is just a damn good hard rock song. The lyrics are told from the point of view of the gun, and make an intriguing statement given how desensitized most people have become to violence and death. Not surprisingly the vocals are delivered with an angry snarl. The chorus is big and memorable.
Madlife taps into its cinematic bag of tricks for “Live and Die in Hollywood” who have actually recorded songs for films and television. A bit more electronica here, but again the emphasis is on the melody rather than the ambiance. This should gain decent radio footing which is probably why it was the EPs first single.
More dramatic flair opens “I Know the Feeling”. The verse vocals are almost like a sexual caress before that angry voice returns on another catchy chorus. The song is an introspective look beyond the face we all see in the morning.
“Pain of Pleasure” is perhaps the most industrial track on the EP. It continues the driving tempo of the album, and reminds us of the naughty sleaze of L.A.’s edgy underbelly.
The final track is the EP’s slowest and moodiest, the darkly twisted, “Still Alive”.
“21st Century Megalomaniac” starts with an explosion of guitars, addictive rhythms, soaring harmonies, and heaviness but ends with a bit of a dull roar. Every one of the five tracks is solid, but each one hits with a little less impact than the one before it. The performances are impressive and the production spot on. There are shadows of greatness here, and I look forward to what Madlife‘s next full album might bring.