MADHOUSE – Braindead

MADHOUSE - Braindead
  • 5/10
    MADHOUSE - Braindead - 5/10


Label: Iron Shield Records
Release date: June 12, 2020

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

In these days of a thousand sub-genres (the arrival of Belgian jazz-opera interpretive dance metal cannot be far away), it ought to be easy to find interesting, authentic new music. Alas, in many cases, it seems that attaching a flakey label to a group of metallers signifies that something of regional, rather than general interest is likely to follow.

This much is true of “Teutonic Metal” combo Madhouse. Steeped in the German thrash explosion of the 1980s, their sound is a shoutier, slightly more caustic affair than their Bay Area counterparts – a shot of vinegar to the mouth with nothing to cleanse the palette.

The end result is a band that has something of the lost tourist about them. Familiar enough with their own culture, but haltingly self-conscious when they try and make themselves understood beyond its borders.

Not that this will bother Madhouse or their followers. Opener “Break The Ice” sets out the manifesto very clearly. Aggressive, blade on steel guitars? Check. Disregard for the virtues of melody? Check. Tortured delivery that makes Metallica and Megadeth sound like they are writing music for a World Health Authority documentary on African water shortages? Check.

It would be neither facile nor flippant to say that this description applies to the rest of the album. “Never Say Die” flails away with evil intent, the harmonic structure given a slightly novel twist by the presence of a neo-classical chord progression. “Braindead” brings at least a flicker of variety, its clean picked beginning blooming into a funereal stomp that Dracula would be happy to employ at his nuptials. “Oscar” even showcases a fleeting Deep Purple reference, before normal service is resumed.

In truth, repeat listens to “Braindead” do not reveal a path to hidden gems. Didi Shark’s staccato hollering sounds like he is trying to perform a particularly stubborn exorcism. It’s impressive in its own way, but after the third song any lingering sense of interest is bludgeoned into submission. And while Carston Krekow and Thomas Gamlien’s guitars are given adequate space to explore ambitious options, they rarely deviate from the hi-gain shred style laid down in thrash metal’s founding documents. It’s a shame, because only the disingenuous would claim that this is the work of rank amateurs.

As it is, Madhouse have produced an album of bog-standard thrash metal whose scope and breadth is only likely to please long-standing initiates. In the world that they operate in, that might be enough. For the rest of us, greater rewards are to be found elsewhere.


  • Dan Whittle

    Daniel was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He's been a music fan since his mother introduced him to the piano at the age of 5. That she introduced him is no real guide to whether he could play it, "as anyone who had the misfortune to hear my hamfisted plonking would readily testify," says Dan. Abandoning his nascent career as a pianist, he turned, instead, to listening to as many albums as he could lay his hands on. The first, halting steps, were of the novelty record variety; but gradually he found his niche. After a brief, abortive flirtation with indie, he heard Clutching at Straws by Marillion and that was it. These days his tastes are on the catholic side, but whiling away a few hours listening to ambitious guitar music (especially of the progressive variety) is still amongst his favorite activities.   Oh, and if anyone's wondering, he did learn the piano and the guitar in the end...

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