ST. MADNESS – CARNIMETAL – THE BEST OF ST. MADNESS PT. 2 (Nasty Prick Records)

 

                                    (Review by Sloof)

St. Madness is an American band that released already several albums in the past, but they were totally unknown to me. Colleagues at Metal To Infinite seem to follow this band already quite some time, so now it’s my turn to get in touch with this bunch of freaks that like to serve their metal with a little rock/shock attitude.  It’s all in the name of U.S. Metal, but they seem to have a twisted mind, as they add a theatrical style with now and then really humoristic passages. 

St. Madness is not only an original name, they like to dwell in the mystery of life and have fun while bringing stories of terror, destruction with a wink of the eye. It’s a little comparable with the German band The Vision Bleak that like to spread a similar message, although the musical direction is totally diverse. Anyway, what we hold in hands right now is a double CD named: St. Madness Carnimetal, and it comprises a compilation album with the best of 20 years of Blood, Guts and Glory. The booklet contains pictures from different eras and on some we see the members wearing facepaint, probably to poke Gene Simmons from Kiss. The makeup became an important matter in the evolution of the band and this gimmick-like expression fits perfectly to the music of St. Madness. It’s like some lunatics escaped a mental hospital or asylum, but at the same time, they all relativize that this facepaint is necessary, as to every individual member it’s Warpaint, and they wear it because they like it, no explanation needed. St. Madness released a first Best Of CD in 2003, and now, exactly 10 years later, they want to give an integral and comprehensive album to the fans that were loyal all those years. This is the far most complete compilation album of the band and although it’s not certain that other albums will be released in the near future, their message is vague as only time will tell.

The main composer and frontman of St. Madness is Prophet, and he started the band as ‘Crown Of Thorns’ around 1993.  After four years, they discovered that New Jersey already had a Christian band with the same name which was trademarked already in 1991. To avoid legal actions, they changed their name into St. Madness, as they already released an album with a related album title: ‘The Spiritual Visions of St. Madness’. From that day on, St. Madness was born and ready to conquer the world with a mix of U.S. Metal and a very personal approach on varied topics.  It’s a little bit like Tenacious D, but in a much heavier version, and this is an ‘as clear as plain day-light’ compliment!

The first disc contains 80 minutes of franc Metal with a high dose of the typical U.S. Metal ingredients. Vocals that fits like a glove, arrangements that are interesting to listen to and a exquisite variety. Some songs are new, 2013 tracks, like ‘Drowning On Air’, ‘Blood, Guts And Glory’ and even the Black Sabbath cover track ‘Sweet Leaf’. Others are from 2006 (‘Carl The Clown’, ‘Ever After’, ‘Arizona’) and in between, like ‘The Art Of Terror’ (2009) and  ‘Comfortably Numb’ (2012) which is a Pink Floyd cover. The tracks on this first disc give a good overview on the career of St. Madness so far, and as I’m not familiar with this band, I perfectly know what they did and achieved during the past years. It’s an appetizer to get to know the band better, and if you like this material, you might be interested in buying some older albums, for sure! 

The second disc takes 77 minutes and contains more goodies like unreleased tracks, a live bootleg session of Crown Of Thorns, a re-mastered version and so on! Opener ‘Canonizing Carnage’ is going at full blast with a very interesting approach. The chorus is again pretty commercial, but the song as one cut is brutal. A very nice mix that will test your neck muscles! A track like ‘Head’ is comparable with Five Finger Death Punch material, but only extremer and more brutal, while the track demonstrate that the band is also open for ballad-like material. The tracks that feature the Crown Of Thorns In Concert Live Bootleg have a little lesser sound quality, but that’s obvious as we are talking about a bootleg, right? The recordings took place at The Electric Ballroom in Tempe, Arizona, USA, on Saturday March 1st, 1996. In between the songs you will hear that the crowd is going insane, and I’m sure that this venue is still suffering from that gig. The roof went off, the place burnt down to the ground and perhaps it transmuted into a pilgrimage area.

Most of the songs have a hidden hatch, a way out to the extreme, perhaps best defined as the underground. St. Madness is a band with several faces, it’s a band that likes to deceive and mislead. One moment you have an idea what a certain song is all about, but one thing is for sure, you never know what is going to happen shortly after. St. Madness lead up the garden path and they do it with bravura! Normally we don’t rate compilation albums, as they are ‘a best of’, but to give you an idea what my personal appreciation is, let’s make an exception!

My rating: 86 / 100 

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95+ : Outstanding, high valued albums & Classic Ones… a direct purchase is advisable !

Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan

Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it

Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing

Between 60 and 69: Rather moderate

Between 50 and 59: Bad, substandard

50- : Rubbish