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Metal indeed but nothing to go mad about - 68%

kluseba, January 14th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2008, CD, Tokuma Japan Communications (Japan)

In between the energetic Racing and the creative masterpiece 2012, Japanese heavy metal veterans Loudness were caught in a string of solid but overall forgettable releases and Metal Mad perfectly exemplifies this situation. The band offers an interesting mixture of numerous metal genres. The quartet overall still plays heavy metal with melodic guitar riffs and ecstatic solos, dynamic rhythm section and raw vocals. A few of the faster tunes however also flirt with thrash metal riffs. The slower tunes focus on an oppressive groove metal atmosphere and some psychedelic doom metal vibes.

While this mixture sounds intriguing on paper, this formula had already been used on the predecessor and would continue to be used on the successor as well. The tracks on Metal Mad are solid but simply not memorable. As soon as a chorus gets addicting, a guitar riff develops a creative twist or the rhythm section shakes off all boundaries, the respective song is already over and forgotten. The song writing is lacking wit, precision and identity.

From time to time, the guitarist's weakness for Indian folklore shines through and helps at least a few tunes to stand out even though this influence had already been used in the band's experimental phase in the late nineties. The plodding epic ''Can't Find My Way'' has a hypnotizing and meditative tone at times that might not sit well with heavy metal purists but helps the song leave a significant atmospheric mark. ''Gravity'' equally flirts with a psychedelic middle section consisting of haunting vocal effects, uneasy guitar patterns and playful rhythm section.

Metal Mad's problem is that the conventional heavy metal tunes like the opening title track ''Metal Mad'' are too predictable and tame while the more experimental songs like the psychedelic alternative rock power ballad ''Whatsoever'' are hard to digest and almost pretentiously weird. This record certainly won't appeal to a larger audience. It needs the listeners to be really patient to let the contradicting song writing grow on them as time goes by.

In the end, Loudness' Metal Mad isn't a bad record but only recommended to avid collectors and fans who equally appreciate the band's more conventional heavy metal soundscapes and its guitar-driven experimental phases. This release needs some more time to grow than most other records. However, it offers at least a few hidden gems with psychedelically droning doom metal tune ''High Flyer'', nervously fidgeting alternative rock outburst ''Spellbound #9'', independent rock power ballad ''Whatsoever'' as well as hypnotizing and meandering epic ''Can't Find My Way''.