This is originally a Ciao review, that the band read and posted on their facebook and twitter page :)
So for those of you who have been reading my reviews for a while now - may well have seen my reviews of this band's albums in the past. In fact this is the only artist where I have now reviewed all their albums to date. I got so excited about this album being available I stayed up until midnight to be able to download it, despite being up really early the next day but never mind. Since the album had been out in the states a while I was very eager to get my ears around the band's latest offering. Especially considering the close call the band has had recently, and the fact I saw them in Manchester on November 16th!
~*~ Who Are Madina Lake? ~*~
Nathan and Matthew Leone, they are twin brothers, identical twins actually... Try telling them apart! Well actually for the past few years it has been slightly easier than you would imagine, Matthew Leone (the one with the bass!) has had a rather large black chunk in the front of his hair... Now though the boys both have short hair after an unfortunate incident... To be honest unless you see their tattoos there is very little chance of telling them apart! Although if you ever got chance to ask Nathan about his Wizard tattoo don't be surprised if you see him dropping his trousers... However these boys have no always had such a solid start and success, as just a few years ago the boys took part in that lovely show - Fear Factor obviously with these two it wouldn't just be any normal edition they went on the Twins Edition. If you don't know what Fear Factor, is I would suggest checking it out, as long as you aren't made queasy easily... Anyway, despite the fact that Nathan and Matthew won this edition of Fear Factor, and got the $50,000, it could have come at a more dangerous price - their lives! As a result of their day or two of madness the boys ended up with a life threatening bug in their bloodstreams which if the infection had spread and reached their hearts... Well they wouldn't be here today producing some of my favourite tracks... Considering the past few years I am happy to say that they have managed to produce and tour with a new album - the unfortunate accident I will mention later on.
As fond as I am of the Leone twins, there is come stunning talent in the shape of drummer Dan Torelli, born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania... After attending a local High School, Torelli proceeded to attend Full Sail University, to gain a qualification in recording and audio engineering - which I bet is a little bit useful now for being in the studio with Mateo and the Leone's... Not only is he very talented with the drum sticks, audio equipment, but he is also a strict vegetarian who has done campaigns for PETA, and been named one of the hottest vegetarians... Before Madina Lake Torelli was in a band called Reforma, with band mate Mateo Camargo...
Mateo Camargo the talented guitarist, as I said has been in a band with Torelli before Matthew and Nathan split with their band The Blank Theory, and joined the pair to form Madina Lake... However Mateo is originally from Columbia and met Torelli at university in Florida, the pair started a firm friendship there that has lasted them through the bands and into Madina Lake, not only does Mateo play guitar for the band he also adds the electronics, and synth to the album and singles...
All four happen to be on twitter and Camargo actually cracks me up with some of the random stuff he posts, so if you're a fan and happen to have a twitter, look them up..
(Some of the above has been stolen from my other ML reviews)
~*~ Track Listing ~*~
1. Howdy Neighbour - 3.43
2. Imagineer - 3.55
3. They're Coming For Me - 3.12
4. Hey Superstar - 3.09
5. Fireworks - 2.44
6. Across 5 Oceans - 3.27
7. We Got This - 3.04
8. What It Is To Wonder - 3.15
9. Heroine - 2.44
10. Blood Red Flags - 2.48
11. Take Me or Leave - 3.30
12. The Great Divide - 2.07
As with the other ML albums, the tracks aren't what you would call long, but what there is of them is quite powerful - which is what brings me back to them over and over again. A 12 track album is nice to see and at overall nearly 45 minutes worth of music it is quite a lot really, well it feels like a lot to me. Even now when I've listened to it too many times I daren't even look at how many times it's been listened to!
~*~ Howdy Neighbour ~*~
The bitterness is rising up, But I've found something to live for
Not going to lie this song is a bit of a weird one, initially I wasn't sure if I liked it all that much, but after hearing it live it has grown on me a lot, mainly because I now know the actual lyrics instead of the random ones I happened to be singing beforehand. Now whatever you do don't play this to small children because one of the lyrics is on about killing someone's Dad, and to be honest no one wants to hear that! I have to say though the rest of the lyrics are about domestic violence to a level. It is a little more explicit than that with some swearing, it is a great start to the album, getting a bit of frustration out I think.
Musically it is a steady track that starts out with a really could swirling guitar riff that really drags you into the song. The drums are quite frantic as it leads into the chorus and it will get you moving your head or feet or whatever you fancy moving along to this song. It is so consistently good all the way through and the vocals are fantastic, Nathan is really putting his all into this song and you can tell. The bass actually is so easy to hear, and fits so well with the smidge of piano you've got running through this song. Every time I hear it now I can't help but think about the live version and now just listening to it gives me goose bumps! Download it because it's an amazing introduction to an album and a fantastic track in its own right!
~*~ Imagineer ~*~
I realised the hands, wrapped around my neck, was my imagination at war with my head
This song comes in really nicely on a synthesised track, and bursts into some heavy guitar - which is unusual for them but really works with this track. The heavy and frantic guitars stay under the vocals, and come the chorus it comes a bit more melodical but none the less it stays a fast paced track that really gets in your head. It was a great choice for a single actually, as again it is an old school Madina track, (once you get past the intro anyway.) It is a weird song to get your head around actually, but it's a bit looking around the idea of becoming happy with yourself and disregarding what anyone else thinks about you - which is something a lot of people could do with doing if I'm honest so maybe the boys are doing everyone a favour and telling you all to chill out.
The vocals are again really strong, Nathan has got his rage head on and is singing to the limits of his voice high and low - you can tell just from the emotion in his voice that the lyrics actually mean something to him. It's quite a powerful song in regards to all instruments used actually, you have bass that syncs in so well with the guitars it's almost flawless and it's a song that you will want to sing along to, and if you're anything like me once it's in your head it's not going anywhere. Download the next single off the album, and if you get a chance check out the video too, it's hilarious - proving the lads can have a good time in the back of a taxi!
~*~ They're coming for me ~*~
I feel the angels coming for me, but I'm not ready to leave, I've got a promise to keep
Now I actually heard this song a while back on Spotify before I knew it was going to be on the album, so I already knew I loved it. It's a bit of a different song for them to put out actually - I initially thought it might have been a cover I was that surprised about it! Never the less, after a few listens I accepted it as a Madina song, and I already love it so didn't need it to grow on me. This song though is heavily based on drums to start off with but it does give it that punchy start you need to get you listening. The guitars though are quite heavy and well something you wouldn't be surprised to hear in a much heavier band - didn't realise until just now how well they are done; can't down rate Mateo and his guitar skills at all. The bass again is quite quiet if you are listening to it on a normal speaker, but in my car with my 10 speaker system the bass is at a nice level not one where it is going to break the windows thankfully!
As you can see from the sample lyric I have put with the song title, it's a bit more of a spiritual song. Not sure how religious the boys actually are but it's one of those songs that you can't deny is about someone having a disease and dying, or knowing they are going to die. So it's one you don't want to over analyse really. It's a good song really it's simple to learn the lyrics to if I'm honest, though I did go round singing the wrong word in a point of the song, for a long time but I have put it right now. Thankfully seeing it live corrected me for it and I would like to point out that Matthew saw me singing the wrong lyric and winked at me as I was on the front row of the show. This song is one that is a little bit different again to what you might expect from the band, with some amazing guitars - download this one for a surprise at what the boys are capable of achieving in a studio; and trust me it's better live!
~*~ Hey Superstar ~*~
Hey Superstar, Don't try so hard, maybe someday you'll see who you really are
This was the first single released from this album, so it was the first offering I heard from the new album since everything had happened with the accident - so initially I was a bit nervous about hearing it because as one of my favourite bands I just wanted them to have made some amazing music. I wasn't disappointed either, couldn't have been happier - where some fans were upset the band had taken a slight step back to the days of the first album. I was happy they had gone back to their roots and brought out some of their more guitar based music. The guitars in this song I really like, and would happily learn to play, because it combines something very melodical with a riff that is heavy and more like the early Madina. The bass as well is so easy to hear, and fits perfectly, the drums aren't too in your face either which makes listening to it on full blast easier because not everything is drowned out by cymbals.
The lyrics, now I suspect they are a bit of a dig at someone or a group of people because it does sound very much just like how I feel about a bunch of celebrities famous for being famous. Either that or it's just a gentle reminder to us all that we don't need to try as hard as we do to be liked, and that in the end if people don't like you for who you are they shouldn't at all. But hey that's just how I read it, but there is definitely some meaning to the lyrics of this song - and just because I saw them live a month ago I will impart to you all that this song is fantastic live, the vocals are amazing. Nathan just makes the song sound so good - he actually sings his heart out in this song, and well we were all singing. Surprisingly though there is a lot of Matthew singing in this song, and to be honest you can't tell much difference between the brothers vocally!
Another great single from the boys, a step back to their earlier music, which is by no means a bad thing!
~*~ Fireworks ~*~
I'm not the first, But I promise, I'll be the last to get you off like this
Well this song was the first one I listened to properly purely because the lyrics caught my ears. They are to me what you might called risqué - now it might just be because I am filthy minded but Google the full lyrics to Fireworks and I defy you to disagree that this song is just pure filth! For that reason alone I find it highly addictive; it has spent a lot of time full blast in my car; much to the annoyance of my boyfriend, since he's not much of a fan. The song is a little different to bands normal sound, as it is very synthesised but it's not a bad thing - it just provides a bit of contrast to some of the later tracks on the album that are heavier than you might expect. It shows a bit of diversity I guess - but because it is a more upbeat it did take me by surprise, but I can't complain about it because as normal Nathan's voice sounds amazing it fits so well with the song. Even in the overly sexual lyrics it just seems to fit really well; might just be me and my lust for the brothers interfering but it does have a very sexual feel to it. There isn't a lot you can say about the actual song though the track is very up tempo as are most of their songs, it's more of a 'rave' track and I use that term loosely as you aren't going to hear it in a club anytime soon but it's got that feel to it!
It's a great song that hasn't got old for me yet; think it will be one that sticks as one of my favourites for a long time; well worth downloading!
~*~ Across 5 Oceans ~*~
Now that it's over, I'm moving on, I'm not getting under your landslide
This song actually helped me a lot in the last sort of chunk of getting past my ex-boyfriend as you can tell music means a lot to me, and if you have read any of my other music reviews you'll see this. The lyrics just at that time described exactly how I felt about him about the whole idea of something being finished and moving on, the lyrics I've quoted are brilliant - it just gives you a bit of something to think about to know that regardless of all the idiots that might get in your life you can get away from it all. Musically it is quite slow to start, with fast guitars that kick into something a bit more frantic and an amazing riff under it all that I can't help but love. The drums are consistent throughout, no over the top cymbal beating, just some good heavy drum beat under a good heavy bass line, and in the chorus' a chunk of piano - they really are quite diverse. Vocally, there is a bit of a mix of styles, you can hear Nathan slipping slightly into wanting to scream but he holds back and carries on singing in a way that you can actually hear him. Although it's not only Nathan's voice you can hear, his brother compliments him nicely underneath. Download this if you fancy a good sing along as I can't listen to this without singing!
~*~ We Got This ~*~
Late on the street, you heard the screams and you saw her getting beat
Now it took me a couple of listens to realise what this song was about and since I've worked it out it has become one of my favourites. Purely because it is written by Nathan Leone about twin brother Matthew, who heard a woman getting beaten and abused in the street, so he jumped in as the hero to save her; and ended up getting beaten to within an inch of his life. Matthew received such a beating his brain swelled, they had to remove a chunk of his skull and in solidarity his brother shaved his own head. The lyrics in this song are a testimony to how close these two are, considering they lost their mum at a young age, nearly died in fear factor - I don't think you could get siblings closer. The lyrics range from Nathan getting a phone call from Matthew in the ambulance, right through to surgery. It really is a song that lyrically tugs on the heartstrings; well it did for me anyway.
Musically it is a slightly slower song than normal for the guys, but it is just as good on guitars - it's not spectacular but for the lyric content you don't need anything that goes over the top. The song has a very melodical chorus, that even though the content is a bit sad you will want to sing along to. The drum beat is very slight in the background - so not to overpower the vocals, it's just a very calm song musically, its more the vocals that are urgent so the guitars just flow around it - there is a distinct lack of bass in this song - it may well be there but I am struggling to hear it. This song is overall a good one, a bit slow but it has sensitive lyrical matter, download to hear the love shared between a band and two brothers.
~*~ What It Is To Wonder ~*~
I've never seen a ghost, but I've seen miracles, I guess it's all possible
This song starts out fairly lightly actually, you are lulled into a false sense of security with calm piano underneath and then about thirty seconds in it will jolt you into a heavy and strong guitar riff chorus with a very strong drum beat, which is where you get a strong bunch of cymbal work - which sounds perfectly placed so I cannot complain. The bass again, well I love it in this song especially at the end of the second chorus, you can hear it building, and come the end of the song it will shake your car windows it's so deep I just can't help but love it, it makes the song for me. The vocals again as normal with Nathan are pushed to the limits of his ability but it's another song, you can tell he has put a lot of effort into his vocals and it makes you feel every word he is singing. I find myself singing along to this song really hard in the car and, yes people do tend to look at me a bit funny. Lyrically this song is a bit bizarre really I haven't totally worked it out if I'm honest. As with a lot of this album it's to do with Matthews accident but it seems this one is about things you wonder about, the lyric I've quoted even has a bit of a spiritual meaning to it, and the guys have claimed that Matthews recovery has been a bit of a miracle for them so I can see where it has come from. I find actually the title of the song sung really low in the latter part of the song is a really nice touch, not that I'm bias to Nathan's voice at all. Download this for an amazing bass riff!
~*~ Heroine ~*~
When you find your heroine, She will take you in, and then you know it's never over if you never surrender
I first heard this song on youtube, because it is on their limited edition album called 'Dresden Codex,' and I couldn't get hold of it so was really happy to get this song on this album. The song begins again a little bit synthesised, but still quite frantic, and then the guitars kick in and kick it up a gear, the drums provide a hefty beat. Until the vocals kick in properly for the chorus and then it becomes quite melodical - the difference between the two sections of the song is quite big but the transition makes is seamless and it gives a sound that not many other bands have achieved. The vocals are quite soft for a change with Nathan, he's not straining to sing his heart out he just plods along with the song - giving the emphasis where it is needed bring a great vocal aspect to the track. Now I'm not going to lie I have no idea what is going on with this song lyrically it's about as obvious to me as something I can't see - I'm sure the boys understand it but the lyric I have quoted makes me think it's something to do with never giving up. Then again I might be wrong! Download this purely for a great track!
~*~ Blood Red Flags ~*~
The real sickness is I need the pain, In fact I'm craving it
This song is a bit more explicit actually; it is about a relationship that's gone a bit wrong I can tell from the lyrics. However it sort of tracks a few hours after finding out someone has cheated on you, and the pain it causes but you can't help but go back for more. The fact that you don't need honesty if you don't lie, it's a song that a lot of people could do with taking a few tips from. You can hear a bit of anger in Nathan's voice in this song, so it sounds like he is the one that has been hurt by the subject matter of this song. One thing you can say about this band is that vocally they put a lot of feeling into their songs, and it's one of the main things I love about them. The music is quite angry as well you can tell that from the outset, with the beginning being a countdown - it just gives that idea of something being rushed out. Doesn't make it a bad song musically, but it is a rock song, quite heavy on the bass and the cymbals but nothing that over powers the vocals, but when it needs it the riffs are really memorable and it's not a long you are going to forget for a long time. It's not a song that you will immediately go wow, it's my favourite song, but it's not going to be one that you skip over either. Download this to hear a bit of a heavier Madina!
~*~ Take me or Leave ~*~
But I've seen some horrible things, and thanks to memory I doubt they'll ever leave
I'm not going to beat around the bush I love this song, it sounds so happy when it starts the track isquite highly pitched and sounds like it could be about the happiest thing in the world; but obviously it's not when the lyrics kick in it's a bit of complaint about life in general really. If you read the full lyrics you will see what I mean as it is a bit of reflection on everyone's life in this day and age, so you can't really blame them for writing about it. It just shows that you don't need to care if anyone is judging you, if you are happy then who cares. Musically there are patches of synthesised material, but all in all it's quite a calm song drums are kept low and nothing extraordinary there - guitars are minimal as well it's a great song. Espeically with the extra vocalist, if Nathan wasn't enough there is a guest vocalist, that brings a little bit of a rap vibe to the track, but I quite like it really it's another string to their bow to be honest. Download this for something a little bit different from the boys.
~*~ The Great Divide ~*~
I wish that I could trust everyone I want to, But I guess I love a bunch of fools
This song actually couldn't make a better end to the album if it tried, it brings in the trademark instrumental end into it even though it's not as long as we've been used to its still there, we haven't lost the Madina I know and love. The lyric I have quoted is one of the best from the album if I'm honest and a lot of how I feel about people. The song itself isn't about to blow anyone out of the water with it's musical talent, but it is one that you can listen to over and over without making your ears bleed. It combines the talents of all the guys in the band, and just brings you back to the original musical background to the first album which ties it up beautifully if I'm honest. Vocally it is quite calm and relaxed, and you can sing a long once you know the lyrics without screaming your head off which is always quite good on the vocal chords really! Download this to get a kick back to 2007's Madina!
~*~ Price and Availability ~*~
Good luck getting hold of this bad boy, I only managed to get it online download because amazon just happened to be stocking it, getting hold of a CD can be a bit difficult as I don't think many were dispatched to this country so try amazon and Play, if not get on eBay and grab yourself one there. The new album is in the range of around £7-8, as it has been out a while but not too long, but I can't say for definite as prices change quite a lot. If you are a fan of alternative music, or have been wondering if Madina Lake have kept themselves on top of their game - get it!
And as a by the by, they are lovely lads, I met them after the show I went to, and Matthew thanked me for my enthusiasm and knowing the words through the show (hence how I found out why he winked at me :P)