Released on July 9, 2019 (Visionary Records)
I have some good news and some bad news. Let’s start off with the bad news. If you’re looking for the Banshee of old that released three melodic power metal albums from 1986 to 1993, you will be disappointed as Banshee have gone in a much heavier direction with their fifth studio album The Madness. The good news is that if you are into some straight ahead quality heavy metal with a singer that at times reminds me of a cross between Ronnie James Dio and former Queensrÿche frontman Geoff Tate, you will likely be very pleased with Banshee‘s latest offering.
The reality is that Banshee are really not the same band that rose from the ashes in the late ’80s / early ’90s. Only guitarist Terry Dunn remains from the original Banshee line-up. Lead vocalist George Call who also sang on Banshee‘s previous album Mindslave (2012) has a much gruffier and almost but not quite “growl” like voice, which really changes the feel of the songs. Gone is Tommy Lee Flood‘s higher pitched delivery that was kind of like Helloween‘s Michael Kiske. In fact, Helloween provide an interesting comparison as Andi Deris‘ voice is darker and way less high pitched than Kiske, which really changed Helloween‘s sound to a heavier one once Deris took over the reigns vocally. Now imagine Deris‘ voice being even darker and heavier, and that is how much the vocals have changed from Flood to Call in Banshee. Personally, it doesn’t really matter to me since I never really followed Banshee back in the day so I am not attached to their sound from the late ’80s / early ’90s. Rather, I am listening to Banshee‘s The Madness as an album coming from a “new” band. Any other perspective will likely result in disappointment as I can relate to how disappointing it can be to have a band completely reinvent its sound 20 to 30 years later.
When I first heard Banshee‘s album The Madness, my initial thoughts was that this was a straight ahead heavier metal record that had a very cohesive sound to it from start to finish. My subsequent listens (and this is the only album that I have played in the last few days) confirm this. It’s almost a shame that The Madness starts with the opening track “Metal Morphosis” because although the track is a good one reminiscent of Judas Priest‘s Painkiller era, it’s almost a little too cliché with the basic chorus stating “Metal Morphosis… Metal Morphosis…” with the word “morphosis” being a bit of a mouthful to sing along to. In any case, “Metal Morphosis” is a solid heavier track and if you like the sound of that one, odds are that you’ll likely all the songs on The Madness.
Banshee‘s The Madness is probably the first heavy metal album that I can think of that really puts mental illness at the forefront. The CD booklet has executive producer Steve Susman almost baring his soul with the difficulties that he was going through during the time period that The Madness was conceived. I note that Susman has co-writing credits for the lyrics of four of the ten songs on the album. The most powerful song for me is the incredible “Ingrid (Ballad of An Ex Wife)” which presumably was written from an ex-wife’s perspective as she takes everything away from her ex-husband. Or maybe it’s the other way around? The song has a cool guitar groove to it and the lyrics are witty with Call singing things such as “The car you drive”, “Time with your children”, “Any future you might have” and “Your degree of civility” and each time the background vocals coming in stating “I’ll take it.” “Ingrid (Ballad of An ex Wife)” is a powerful and slowly building type monster of a song. If I ever had to go through a divorce, I know the song that I would be playing! I’ve included Banshee playing the track live at the Whisky A Go Go in 2019 but the album version of the song sounds a lot better.
Other highlights include “Into The Breakdown” which has a bit of a classic Dio feel to it, and the album closer “Slippin’ Away” which appears to have been co-written by the late great Ronnie James Dio. No wonder that last one sounds like a Dio song! The one weak spot with Call‘s vocals is on the almost ballad type songs where his voice doesn’t seem to shine or have much range such as on “Psychosis” and the beginning of “Red Sails In The Sunset.” Banshee‘s The Madness is the type of heavy metal album that I can put on at anytime and that I know that I will enjoy. It has a classic heavy metal sound to it with some great sounding guitar. In some ways, it reminds me a bit of the two albums (Metal and Heavy Metal Music) that Newsted featuring former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted released a few years back. They were great and underrated heavy metal records that probably would be appreciated by any lover of heavier straight up heavy metal music, and it’s the same thing for Banshee‘s The Madness.
01. Metal Morphosis
Act I: Crash Landing
03. Demons (In My Head)
04. The Madness
Act II: Shattered Sanity
06. Ingrid (Ballad of An Ex Wife)
07. Into The Breakdown
08. Dead Inside
Act III: Healing
09. Red Sails In The Sunset
10. Slippin’ Away
Terry Dunn – guitars
George Call – vocals
Scot Sutherland – bass
Paul Thompson – drums
Produced by Terry Dunn
Executive producer: Steve Susman
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, January 2020
Banshee‘s “Into The Breakdown” song:
Into The Breakdown from Banshee’s 5th studio lp, “The Madness”. “The Madness” is a quasi concept album that dares to discuss the issue of mental health. Courtesy of Visionary Noise Records 2019. For booking info and more contact www.doubletroubleproductions.net
Banshee performing “Ingrid (Ballad of An Ex Wife)” live at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California, USA in 2019:
INGRID – BANSHEE Banshee performs their original song “Ingrid” from their 5th studio album “The Madness” at the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood. “The Madness” is available from Visionary Noise Records and may be purchased direct at: https://visionarynoise.com/product/the-madness-banshee/ (CD Format) https://visionarynoise.com/product/the-madness-banshee-download/ (Download) We are Visionary Noise an independent record label located in Houston Texas.