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Mad Max - 2006 Night Of The White Rock

ALBUM: Night Of The White Rock
YEAR: 2006


LINEUP: Michael Voss - vocals * Jurgen Breforth - guitars * Roland Bergmann - bass * Axel Kruse - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 To Hell And Back * 02 Losing It Again * 03 Hope To See You * 04 Unbelievable * 05 Sign * 06 Homeless * 07 Raise Your Voice * 08 Upon My Soul * 09 Bad Day In Heaven * 10 N.O.W.R * 11 (Just A) Melody



2006 sees the return of mid eighties German rockers Mad Max. Before Bonfire, Fair Warning, Boysvoice and Casanova, there was Mad Max, who made a shortlived impression on the highly volatile German hard rock scene during the eighties. While Accept were ruling the German roost, bands such as Mad Max were fighting it out in the second division circuit along with the likes of Running Wild, Sinner and Gravedigger. It was here that we first heard Michael Voss and his distinctive Germanic vocal style. Though they first appeared as far back as 1982, their NWOBHM sound was slowly being eaten away by melodic overtones, their later albums such as 'Stormchild' and 'Night Of Passion' ample evidence of this. The band found it tough going and folded in 1989. In between times, Voss went off and did time with Bonfire, the popular Casanova, BISS, Silver and also Demon Drive. But in 1999 he also attempted a shortlived reunion with Mad Max for the Point Music release 'Never Say Never'. At the time, Demon Drive and Silver was where Voss' main energies were being directed. Come 2005, the time was right to put Mad Max back into motion again, the year spent recording new tracks for this album 'Night Of White Rock'. Reading through the bio for the pre-release of this album, there appears to be numerous mentions to religious references via the lyrics and the musical message. If that is seriously the case, then this is new ground for Mad Max. Somehow the two don't quite mix. Perhaps a better idea would have been to go out under a new band name. Leave Mad Max to rest in peace so to speak. The move to line them up against fellow 2005 resurrectees Stryper is more to do with opportunism than anything, particularly for European fans looking to pigeon-hole the band beside something that is both topical and current. However, sound-wise it is not difficult to hear the Michael Sweet sounding moments provided by Voss, but it isn't as dominant as reports would suggest. Anyway, let's listen to the songs.

The Songs
The band power into it with the opening track 'To Hell And Back'. Ah this is great! No prisoners full-throttle stuff guaranteed to keep the feet tapping. The guitars retain their 'crunch' value on 'Losing It Again', while 'Hope To See You' is a rich melodic track, with a bed of keys surrounding the cutting guitars and vocal harmonies. The fact that I heard Voss singing about Jesus and Holy Men didn't put me off. The piano laced ballad 'Unbelievable' is tender, and would've made a certain MTV video I reckon. More lyrical optimism is revealed on the anthemic 'Homeless', followed by the chant-along contender 'Raise Your Voice'. The tempo is raised on the very good 'Upon My Soul', perhaps the pick of the tunes here. I liked 'Bad Day In Heaven' too, the acoustic/electric interplay reminding me of Demon Drive at their best. To ensure listeners go out with a bang, the title track provides more aural hi-jinx. 'Night Of The White Rock' is forceful melodic rock with guitars on edge and organ work in the best tradition of Euro neo classical bands. The album closer '(Just A) Melody' is an acoustic instrumental probably better suited to an Armik solo album, but it is tasteful nonetheless and winds things down in a tender fashion.

In Summary
All religious connotations aside, this is a typical eighties sounding album from a band borne from that era. The Stryper soundalike comparisons are indeed warranted, but so too are references to Casanova and Jaded Heart. It's good stuff and familiar to all lovers of German hard rock. Voss does most of the technical work on the album and it sounds clean and tight all round. Despite the indifferent press surrounding 'Night Of White Rock', I thoroughly enjoyed it and will continue to keep giving this album some air-time well into February.

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