Released on October 31, 2017 (EMP Label Group)
I not only had the opportunity to listen to this album before its release but while I had the chance, I asked Roxy Petrucci a little bit about it. She gave me such great information about some of the songs that I had to include it in here so you will see some Roxy quotes before some of the songs! As far as the title goes, she told me “Monstrocity is about how you will be remembered, if at all. The purest definition of Monstrosity by Merriam-Webster says it best “an object of great and often frightening size, force, or complexity.”
Just looking at it, this album is off to a GREAT start! The cover boasts some impressive artwork, by Ryan Christensen and Llexi Leon, of a destroyed city in the background and the four band members up from as supernatural creatures. I can certainly see this hanging on some walls.
Written by Maxine, Bret and Roxy
“There was a time when the Coliseum was the final stage and lions would devour gladiators while the masses cheered. I can’t imagine what these crowds felt or what they hoped to witness. Some things never change. People gather to watch a person ready to jump off a ledge, what do they hope to see? Side story, there’s a line in the song that says ‘Saw Jesus this day, cheatin on the road’. While on the road with MX we saw ‘Jesus’ walking slowly on the side of the road dragging a giant Crucifix leaning on his back. We were traveling in a 1972 Camaro crammed with band and crew and when we slowed down to take a closer look, we saw little wheels attached to the bottom of the cross. Our inebriated soundman yells out “Hey man, you’re cheatin!” We didn’t even offer the poor guy a ride we just peeled out.” – Roxy
Perfect start to the album as the band says this song sums it all up…. “Madam X is BACK”!
This song kicks off with a Maxine Petrucci guitar intro! Maxine was a shredder practically before shredders stalked the earth, certainly before a female dared to play like this. After the guitar, Bret makes his presence known with an ultra-high scream…. Impressive, as most guys lose notes off the top of their range as they get older. Roxy and Chris jump in with the sound of thunder! Deep thick drums and bass round out their sound beautifully. You’re getting it from all sides. The song is pretty bad ass! Great breakdown in the chorus and I love all of the subtleties they added… haunting background vocals sneaking in from time to time, cool rhythm guitar in the distance. It all adds depth that shows you they didn’t just knock out some basement tunes onto a CD. Pleasantly surprised, already!
Written by Maxine and Roxy
“This is about reflection and how you’ll be remembered, if at all.” – Roxy
Awesome, thick and well produced drum sound in the intro that Roxy plays! Killer track! Maxine has a wonderfully present guitar sound. It’s not overly distorted but dark, heavy and has a beautiful bite. These guys are showing some really impressive arranging skills. I love the pre-chorus on this one because it has such a nice build up and then it just drops…. and then they build it up again. Great use of dynamics in the song, in general.
Written by Maxine and Roxy
“Bret and Chris thought the record was finished until Maxine and I presented “Nitrous.” We had listened to all the songs and realized we needed another tune that would punch you in the face. I think the band achieved that with “Nitrous”.” – Roxy
A high singing intro to this song and then Bret sinks into a strong and solid upper midrange voice that’s genuine. Going into this, I was curious as to how the vocals would sound. They sound great! These are full voice vocals, not just falsetto screams. Bret has a very well rounded voice and the background vocals are definitely on point. I liked the half speed chorus a lot! The song isn’t at all one dimensional. They don’t just set out on one speed and let it run. They are constantly pushing you and pulling you through these songs and I really like that about this album. It’s so easy to get bored with a song that drags on but these guys seem to steer you through different musical chapters in each song. It makes it much more enjoyable.
Written by Chris, Roxy, Bret and Maxine
Mixed by: Mark Slaughter
“I immediately thought Janet Gardner’s voice would be great on this tune. We sent her the track giving her the freedom to experiment with the existing vocal melody. Janet Gardner can sing a Chinese phone book and make it sound metal. There’s nothing she can’t sing so why not turn her loose on a special song like Freak Parade” –Roxy
Started out with a super groovy little riff and then the verses are sung in a call/response style (with Janet Gardner of Vixen, singing the responses)! It was a great choice of song, in my opinion. The pre-chorus and chorus had that KISS “I Love It Loud” feel! This is just one more way the album branches out and shows more than one colour.
Written by Chris
This song has somewhat more of a mainstream feel (that’s not a bad thing!). It has chanting vocals, a killer hook as the chorus and simply put, this song is great! This is one that I can see them choosing this as a single. You’ve heard of an anthem chorus? This song had an anthem verse! And the B-section was amazing. The band is very good with the transitions. Every time they come up to switch parts, it’s not just dry, they use their decades of experience to create interesting transitions between the parts. By the way, I really like the track order. While the songs are all different, they have a very nice flow through the album.
Written by Bret, Maxine and Roxy
“It’s based on the appreciation for the Spinal Tap moments of a metal band on the quest to get a nod from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.” – Roxy
This is more of a fun, laid back rock song. More loose than the others and I love that punchy bass sound winding through the song. One great thing about this record is that, while there is a definite cohesion to the songs, none of these songs are really the same! Right before the choruses, Maxine plays a speedy little guitar rhythm that was subtle but added quite a bit of spice to the song. Bret’s voice really shines in this song as he runs the gamut, thick and powerful to scratchy and screaming!
“Big Rock Rules Heavy”
Written by Roxy and Maxine
I love that everyone, individually has a full, heavy sound on this album. That just adds to the cohesion these songs have. They maintain that distinctive sound while they play very heavy songs and even when they play songs that are more along the lines of ‘rock’. While this song has some heavy parts, it’s another one I could hear on the radio. I’m loving Maxine, again, slipping in the rhythmic scratchy stuff. Very cool! I love how they change things up. Even when they play the same parts, for example, Roxy will change the drum patter behind it. The B-section leading up to the solo was a long build-up of anticipation. I love when they use dynamics in a song like this! A good song really has to be more than one dimensional and they’ve done a great job constructing these songs. I loved the gang chorus on this. This is the type of song everyone at the concert is going to jump in on.
Written by Roxy and Chris Fayz
“This tune I wrote with then Vixen keyboardist Chris Fayz. Maxine and I thought this would be a good one for Chris ‘Godzilla’ to sing especially for the live show with hopes he’ll stop smashing the bass against his head. Concussions are no bueno when you’re head banging on stage. He killed it on vocals!” – Roxy
As Roxy said, this is a song that Chris Fayz, long time keyboardist for Vixen, co-wrote. He really is a good songwriter. He also co-wrote “Kilmister” from the VIP Aftershow release! Bassist Chris ‘Godzilla’ Doliber sounds great on lead vocals. He doesn’t just hit the notes, his voice sells the song. The melody has a smooth flow that just invites you to sing along. Maxine leaves her mark on every single song with something creative or interesting. She’s always reminding you that she’s there! Usually, when you listen to an album, the tracks start fading off by now. Not this one. I love the chorus in this song. This is a really good song with some mean vocals and Roxy sounds like a whole different drummer on the Madam X album than the way we are used to hearing her.
Written by Bret and Colton Lee
This song starts with a very cool, groove oriented riff. There is a beautiful marriage between that groovy riff and these exciting vocals. Bret sounds awesome! The song has an ominous feel. I absolutely love the verses on this song. This is one of my favorite track on the album. What a great guitar sound Maxine has. Bret wrote it with Colton Lee (who also did a great job mixing this song)
Written by Chris
This could be a single! One cool thing about this song is the strained sound of the guitar… the tension that the one note that almost doesn’t even belong creates. This song is very catchy with a sing along chorus. I love the open verses. Maxine is playing a guitar line that gives Bret, the singer, plenty of space to just run around, vocally and do whatever he wants to do. Everyone does such a great job in moving in and out, playing when they should, backing off when they should… it’s like a heavy metal square dance of musicians. I’m not sure I said this enough but I love Maxine’s playing! On a chord progression, she pops out these single notes to put an ‘exclamation point’ on them. I love he sweet, soft backing vocals at the end too!
“Wish You Away”
Written by Chris
I really like the acoustic start. It definitely changed speeds. Great lyrics! Chris Doliver, the bassist, was the songwriter for this one. All of the members pop up as songwriters on this album which is really cool, especially considering there are absolutely no ‘duds’ on the record! It is a little surprising that he, with his overpowering reputation, may have written the sweetest song on the cd…. But take a look at some of the lyrics and you’ll see he’s keeping his reputation in tact! “I’ll miss the sex, I’m a fuckin wreck, I’ll miss my legs around my neck.” Seriously, it’s a great song and Bret sings it very well! He has a solid range… no holes in his voice.
“High In High School”
Written by Chris and Bret
“’High In High School’ was our signature song and will be with us forever. It’s like an old tattoo that just needs some fresh ink”. – Roxy
I’m not always a big fan of re-recording a song because it’s difficult to capture or match that original feel to the song and it’s never as good as the original but they may have actually made this song better than the original! Sonically, of course, they are light years ahead of the ’80s but you can feel a comfortability in the song that lets you know, these guys can play at a very high technical level and they’re just having a good time playing a fun song. It gives them plenty of room to play and to really sink into the feel of the song which is one thing they may not have been able to do as well in the past. The song sounds fuller. They’ve thickened up the sound of the instruments and with it, the overall sound of the song. I’m really impressed with Bret’s voice on this album. It sounds stronger than ever.
“Bride Of Frankestein”
Written by Roxy and Maxine
“This song is an ode to how cruel love can be. Everything was to be turned into the record label but we stalled because we knew we had one more song in us. We were in the Halloween spirit and revisited one of Maxine’s Sabbath like riffs and ‘Bride’ was born. The song basically wrote itself and Maxine did a helluva job singing it.” – Roxy
Whoa… a sexy little riff over sultry sounding song… Listening to the song, I couldn’t really put my finger on who was singing this one when my friend, Knox, bet it was Maxine. I looked through the credits and lo and behold, it is guitar star Maxine Petrucci on vocals! That was a shocker for me. I’ve seen Maxine just destroy a guitar and I’ve even seen her play bass on tour one year with Vixen but I don’t think I’ve ever heard her sing. She really sounds great and this has some amazing sounding guitar on it! This is a perfect way to end the album.
The wrap up
I knew, based on the players that I would enjoy some things about this album but I was not expecting the top notch songwriting they delivered! And I kept finding myself being impressed with the quality of the sound of the record. The album is very well produced (and when an album is produced by the band itself, it doesn’t always turn out that way)! The players are extraordinary. Every one of them steps up to claim their space so the sum of them all is much greater than the individuals would have been, alone. If I had to describe the album in one word, it would be: exciting! It’s fun to listen to. Most of the songs are driving, some are very heavy, and some are a little more loose and fun. The album really takes you on a tour of emotion. This is a record that everyone should check out. I honestly don’t see how anyone could be disappointed!
04. Freak Parade
05. Die Tryin’
06. Big Rock Rolls Heavy
07. Hello Cleveland
08. Detroit Black
09. The Rise
10. Good Stuff
11. Wish You Away
12. High In High School
13. Bride Of Frankenstein
Bret Kaiser – vocals
Maxine Petrucci – guitar, vocals (13)
Roxy Petrucci – drums
Chris ‘Godzilla’ Doliber – bass, vocals (8)
Janet Gardner – vocals (4)
Produced by Madam X
Mixed by Michael Wagener (1-3, 5-8, 10-13)
Mixed by Mark Slaughter (4)
Mixed by Colton Lee (9)
Reviewed by Christopher Carroll with input from Knox Harrington for Sleaze Roxx, October 2017
Madam X‘s Monstrocity album teaser:
Turn this Halloween into Metal-screams with the new Madam X release MONSTROCITY!So come a little closer and take a look insideWe got some candy for your ears…