Madina Lake
World War III

1. Howdy Neighbor!
2. Imagineer
3. They’re Coming For Me
4. Hey Superstar
5. Fireworks
6. Across 5 Oceans
7. We Got This
8. What It Is To Wonder
9. Heroine
10. Blood Red Flags
11. Take Me or Leave
12. The Great Divide

Nathan Leone [Lead vocals]
Matthew Leone [Bass, Vocals]
Mateo Camargo [Guitar, Programming]
Dan Torelli [Drums & percussion]

From Them, Through Us, to You (2007)
Attics To Eden (2009)
The Dresden Codex (EP 2010)


Mateo Carmago (production, mixing, engineering)
Billy Corgan (co:producer)
Recorded by Madina Lake

Released 10/10-2011
Reviewed 9/10-2011


When all is considered, music is not a matter of life and death. It's not the most important thing in the world, something that we need to survive like oxygen, water and sleep. It's not essential for our survival or the reason why we live and others die. But sometimes music is actually the difference between life and death. Sometimes it's the reason why some will live and others don't. Like in the eighties when the biggest music acts in the world joined forces for the spectacle Live-Aid. Which has been followed by countless numbers of festivals, live shows and albums for charity. In june 2010 was one of those times when the music industry showed itself from its best side as a number of bands, lead by Smashing pumpkins, joined forces to make a benefit show for bass player Matthew Leone in Madina Lake, whom had fallen victim of a brutal assault by a man he tried to stop from beating his wife. Leone suffered such severe injuries that he ended up in coma for almost a week before he begun with a long recovery that took him four months of rehabilitation. Without the benefits of the musicians that gave about $80 000 to covered hospital bills he might never have recovered well enough to return to making music, and to record this album. People can say whatever they want about the importance in music, that it's only a form of entertainment or pleasure but in my opinion it is and has always been something that can give happiness, meaning and life. You might think Hallowed isn't taking music serious at all the way we write our exaggerations and unserious way of relate to the music we review but we live for the music in so many ways. And I'm so proud of being a part of this when I see the goodness in the industry as Matthew experienced this terrible incident.

But now I've been going on long enough about things outside 'World War III' so let's, without further stalking for time, move on to the third album by Chicago-based Madina Lake. The album begins with a song lyrically related to the story I mentioned above, called Howdy neighbor!. I'm sure this song has been important in the healing process for Matthew and the band but I'm not feeling that the song in itself is a great song. In my opinion it's one of the weaker songs on this album because all though the music sounds good the lyrics feel forced in to the music without the melodies really working well together. As soon as the second song, the splendid hard rock tune called Imagineer, start I feel this album really start to blossom. This really is an album with high quality and the heavy melodies of Imagineer with its great backing vocals and almost angry lead vocals is where the quality begins. The third song, though, is where it really grab hold of you. They're Coming For Me has an unforgettable chorus with great keyboards and choirs better than what we're spoiled by in the Eurovision Song Contest and Hey Superstar is not far from that either. But that really snowy, glacier peak is found in the sixth song. WOW! I think the appointment to song of the year just got a serious competitor.

What I like about this album is the almost futuristic video game-ish sound on the guitars, the melodies that's keeps heading forward all the time and pull you along with it. And how the choruses really explode in to something so much bigger all the time. The rhythms also keeps doing their part in to making this album enjoyable and probably alone makes the music work as well on the clubs and pubs as they do by the computer at home. And you can not dislike the variation. The album goes from traditional hard rock, like the already mentioned Imagineer, to almost full blown techno tracks like Fireworks. And then of course the fantastic Across 5 Oceans… Without a shadow of doubt this is one of the five best songs 2011 - perhaps even THE best song of 2011.

Moving on to the negative it's not that much to mention but one thing that strikes me is the vocals. From time to time the vocals really hits me as a shotgun, which I say as something negative. But that's only in some of the songs and some parts of songs, often they sound pretty good or at least good enough… so I really don't know what to make out of it, if it have something to do with the Leone twins sharing the vocal burden (though Matthew only is suppose to do back vocals) or what it is, but something is behind the difference in quality and this makes makes the vocal side lack a bit performance. Besides this I think there are a couple of songs that really isn't cutting the mustard, at least in comparison. But apart from this I can't find much to complain about even with my biggest magnifying glass. The production is strong and interesting with lots of authority in it and a sound clean as pure alcohol. Instrumentally they're inventive and precise like cogwheels and I really like how the band just are themselves without adding stereotype attitudes and layers of things they "ought" to do and be. They are Madina Lake and 'World War III' is simply a great rock album full of exciting and interesting elements like programming, rhythms and techno beats to mention a few of those things a hard rock band "isn't suppose to do".

But who can blame them when it sounds this good?

'World War III' is twelve songs set on almost 44 minutes and though it might be 30-35 of those that really are interesting if I'm truly honest, believe me - those minutes really are interesting! Maybe we've also been served with the song of the year? Maybe… but what's unnecessary to discuss is that this album has the most touching story behind an album released in 2011. I'm so glad you're okay, Matthew! This album is really good!


Label: SPV/Steamhammer
Three similar bands: 30 Seconds To Mars/Blink 182/Linkin Park
Rating: HHHHHHH (5/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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