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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Madwagon

With Love From Shangri La

Review by Larry Toering

New metal in the pacific northwest is getting more and more attention lately with some great new stuff coming out, and Madwagon bring the goods with the best of them. The band features the vocals and bass work of charismatic front man Angelo Brea, guitars by Rodney Hardison and primary drummer Rich Morris and Darren Linder also appearing on three tracks. This debut release also features Mark Slaughter on one of the tracks, and the disc is produced by Tim Van Riper and mastered by Cass Anawaty. They all get top marks for their chops and prowess on an album with no filler.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Shangrila
Kicking off with a reasonably hard riff with a beefy rhythm section is no surprise, but the melodic values of the song are what stand out the most. This has some very good vocals with an overall vibrant take-off and landing. There’s an almost outdoorsy appeal to it with a retro vibe, as well, and it features Darren Linder on drums. The lyrics also have a storyline for the title song factor and check out well on this complete with rivers and rising floods.
Relief From The Low
The first thing you notice is the warmth of the sonic factors on this, coming off hot and fuzzy with a killer mix that stands apart from the previous cut. The retro appeal is something this album is obviously strongly laced with, and it’s another winner here. This has some more great vocals and lyrics added along with keyboards by Tom Van Riper.
Tramp Stamp
This is much more incendiary and it’s the track that features Mark Slaughter. There is much more attitude in the lyrics, but it’s also another spot-on melodic metal track with some fantastic guitar playing and an overall enormously satisfying delivery that really packs a punch.
Magazine
More grit makes for another monster tune.  It is more of a groove-based track with some of the best vocals so far. The shuffle just works and there’s no way to not like this toe tapper. This also features Darren Linder on drums.
Cellphone
We get more of the same with this track coming in just as good as the previous one, almost as if they go together on purpose. They are well-arranged numbers, indeed. Hardison’s guitar playing is playful, sweet and just awesome.
Bad Blood
This some is made up of more chunky riffs with a lot less safe vocal effort from Angelo Brea. In fact, it’s probably his best performance on the album.
Perdition's Child
This is one of the best tracks on the album with Rich Morris coming on strong with some of the best percussion on the disc. The vocals are also spot-on with another hit job from Brea, as he even lets out a nice scream. This harkens back to the 80s more than any other track on offer. It's just a vibrantly jubilant performance by all.
The Narrows
This is where things get a little dreamy with an almost pop flair to it, even though there’s no mistaking how heavy this band is. More 80s appeal is displayed here and it’s a good thing.
What You Need
The disc closes with some fine acoustic placed in the mix, with a pretty much gut-level delivery and a stripped back feel. It takes things out on a good note with more of the same great guitar, bass, drums, vocals and keyboards by a band with a great product made with undeniably great chemistry.
 
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