If you were wondering where all of the fast-rising, hard-rocking, all-female international acts are, look no further than Sweden’s own MaidaVale. Since forming in 2012, this band has made sure that no one underestimates the power of female musical talent and live aggression. Together as a group, they have developed a loud, psychedelic and experimental blues rock sound with a rock-solid groove and intense ambition that immediately catches attention. Delivering commanding vocals is Matilda Roth with Sofia Ström ripping off-the-wall solos on guitar. Linn Johannesson provides the catchy basslines while Johanna Hansson bashes away expertly on drums. Taking inspiration from early adventurous artists and bands from the ’60s and ’70s, MaidaVale has unearthed a veritable treasure trove of old musical spirit and reinvigorated the style with heavier and more modern psychedelic intentions.
In recent years, the band has been playing festivals and shows across their home country, gaining interest with their spirited performances and exceptional abilities. With one LP already available for consumption for any eager new fans called ‘Tales of the Wicked West’, MaidaVale has made it clear that while they might be relatively new to the scene, they are not messing around. Now in 2018, to add to their budding repertoire, Maidavale is set to release their second album called, ‘Madness Is Too Pure’ on the 23rd of March via The Sign Records.
With trippy album art and the album title ‘Madness Is Too Pure’, MaidaVale has made an aesthetically pleasing effort to ensure their artwork and title reflects the nine tracks within. The first track on the album features their first video single called Deadlock. Starting with scratchy guitars, a tribal beat kicks in to accompany the hard bass and wandering guitar lick. This song feels a little too low-key in comparison to their previous work, but Sofia Ström soon brings the passion back with her distorted thrashing on guitar.
Next is their second video single by the name of Oh Hysteria!, building suspense with dark punk-ish vibes brought by both by all three instrumentalists. Linn provides a relentless and simplistic bassline that keeps Sofia’s wild guitar only barely in check. Matilda Roth capitalizes on the dark vibe with deep vocals and simple lyrics.
Gold Mind has a strong ’70s rock vibe, with Matilda perfectly executing a Pat Benatar-style vocal performance. This song sees Sofia take a rest musically, sticking to chords for the majority of the song while Johanna keeps a driving beat.
Beginning with an ethereal guitar intro, Walk In Silence carries the deception of being a softer song but the main riff soon kicks in to prove otherwise. The verse is slow and ponderous but suspenseful, building back into the main riff layered over with a shredding solo to finish a short but adventurous track.
Späktrum leads in with muted-picking and a groovy bassline covered by crooning vocals that merges into an experimental moment featuring discordant wind chimes. The breakdowns in the song are forceful and urgent, with harsh guitars and drums behind the tortured cries escaping from Matilda Roth. The song takes a more edgy turn towards the end, a quintessential characteristic of MaidaVale’s ability to build energy into a cacophonous crescendo.
The sixth track, Dark Clouds, relaxedly builds a breezy, bluesy ambiance offset by sharp guitar interludes and matched by deep vocals that are reminiscent of Alison Mosshart from The Kills. This is a good song to drive to on a late night with the windows down; Dark Clouds just bleeds an irresistible, noir-blues feel. The outro, however, felt a little too elongated and could have used a decent hook or extra vocals.
Trance is, unsurprisingly, an experimental and psychedelic endeavour. Keeping a consistent beat and tickling the senses with odd synth effects and a pulsating repetitive bassline, Matilda’s eerie but strong vocals take you floating away before Lin Johannesson drops you back on earth with a heavy bass hook and Sofia’s funky effects-laden guitars picking up the pace.
She Is Gone carries a complex bassline and clipped guitars, Johanna’s tom-heavy drumming once again inspiring a tribal feel behind the modernised blues rock feel. The hard-hitting feel of this song is a lovely change of pace and a sharp token of their potential for original and frantic hard rock.
The final track on ‘Madness Is Too Pure’ is the ambient Another Dimension. Beginning with a simple ascending and descending bassline, Sofia’s clanging guitar and Matilda’s low vocals form a gloomy theme that approaches tedium that is not relieved by the heavily distorted guitar solo held at odds with the low-energy landscape behind it. Unfortunately, this felt like a low point to end the album on where the experimentation was valued on this song.
I feel like this album is a musical romp into the outer reaches of psychedelic and experimentation while still maintaining focus on their strengths as a band with hard-hitting songs like Gold Mind and She Is Gone picking up the slack left by the more meandering efforts of Another Dimension and Deadlock. For a band still finding their collective feet and figuring out exactly how far they want to push their incredible style and sound, ‘Madness Is Too Pure’ is an album showcasing a plethora of potential.