Wisconsin band The Mad Mad Ones describe themselves as “…a little bit old school Sabbath, a little bit punk, a little bit Indie, and a little bit alternative”, which is appropriate. Formed in 2010, the band is made up of Ted Fox (Guitar/Vocals), Nick Bretl (Drums), Jeff Sandbom (Guitar) and Ryan Anderson (Bass). They cite a slew of Stoner and Grunge bands as influences and their sound certainly echoes these influences, but in a unique way.
The album, Down the Rabbit Hole, is a dark, trippy affair and is heavy with flecks of colour amongst the blackness. There is much going on across the grooves and the band show a knack of bringing fire to the sonic wasteland.
“California” is a chugging riff train of loud guitars and distorted vocals. Ted Fox‘s wounded animal howls warn about the dark side of the Sunshine State. An opener that raises eyebrows and furrows brows!
The next sonic sonnet “Bury Me” has a bass riff opener that brings to mind Metallica‘s “Amnesia” and moves onto stoner riffing. Driven by distorted bass, the song contains a chorus with tinges of Alice In Chains. The best line is “bury me beneath your scars“. There is also a great bass breakdown and the guitars wail on a grunge-tastic solo. It is like 1992 all over again!
“Floodwaters” has a gentle riff opening, with some bluesy Doors-like jamming. The “so glad you came” refrain is dreamlike and takes you on a really trippy trip man. Niiicce….
“Dusty” gives you more Stoner grooves, but with great bass runs. Fox growls(sic) like Josh Homme , but the deal is sealed with a wah-wah solo raising like a tango with the ghost of Jimi Hendrix.
Black Sabbath come to mind on “The One” with mad bat riffing being interspersed with great jazz-like syncopation. The tune then goes all doomy and ends up chugging away like Metallica on any number of cuts from Load.
“Black Is Blue” is a more uptempo rocker which is catchy and tight. Sabbath-like again, the screaming vocals remind me of one Axl Rose…Mad Ones indeed!
“Dream Song” again has a great bass opener with more riffing like Sabbath and quick tempo shifts to Tom Petty-type singing. Strong song.
The penultimate track is “Hold On” with an acoustic opening and vocals that are restrained but tasteful. It also contains the best riff on the album. All of this is topped off by a fantastic solo again by Sandbom, very much like the maestro Kirk Hammett.
“Clarity” closes the album with a long epic that stays too long. Stop-start riffing goes off into Sisters of Mercy territory and adds even bit of rapping to accompany screaming like Jim Morrison. Probably could do with some pruning, but it is memorable.
This album is not really my usual choice of listening, but strong production and good musicianship make it a collection that has many positives…Go mad my friends, for you are going “Down The Rabbit Hole“. Red or blue pill Neo?