It’s a difficult task trying to describe a band without using other bands as a jumping off point. I find myself easily slipping into that realm of “so-and-so sound like this aspect of such-and-such but with a little less emphasis on riffing…blah-blah-blah, etc, etc”. I hate having to rely on that but it’s very very easy to do so and truthfully, it gets the point across. Especially in the realm of metal. What I am trying to get at is this: South Korea’s Madmans Esprit is a very difficult act to pin down. I hear flourishes of Solefald throughout the album but mainly in the realm of form and not so much style. There’s a sense of multidimension at play here that betrays a lot of the standard metal tropes. Really harsh black metal is the skeleton to the sound but there are hints of dark metal, power metal, alternative rock-and-roll, piano singer/songwriter stuff, and death metal (kind of) with hints of other aspects of style & form that is difficult to put into words that would do it justice. That may seem like a conglormation of shit but it is pulled off very well and it’s a very stunning debut album.

The one aspect to this album that stands out the most is the vocals. Kyuho (who handled all vocals and instruments on the album) has a range that is hard to come by. Equal parts vomit inducing shrieks, majestic Sleipnir riding power metal vocals, and straight up singing that betrays a lot of standards with the fact that he can literally carry a note. Not in the “Oh, it sounds good for metal” way but it’s literally harmonious. It’s literally melodic. Those type of cleans are not as a common as the rest of his multifaceted styles but they are there and they service in the album completely. They propel the music to the realm of coherence that if done incompetently could have caused this album to be a complete mess of styles. Another aspect to this album that revealed itself to me after repeated listens is the completeness of the songs. It doesn’t necessarily flow as an album but that is neither here nor there. These songs have a life of their own; a metaphor for the cycles of life in the form of song. It’s as if each song is birthed, lives a life, and dies in the complete confines of itself. The trials and tribulations and mundanity of existence being conveyed through the vociferous nature of black metal and it’s many faces. This is done six times over and each song can certainly be thought of as “stand out”.It’s really hard to pick the songs apart and describe them with words. Each one is such a beast on it’s own and it’s a very frenzied affair once you get into the thick of it. Actually, it’s that way from the start.

No true words could describe these songs and sound….coherently. This album wears many faces and each face is trying to say the same thing. It’s very confusing but rewarding at the same time. I’d say if I were to choose one for you, the reader, to check out in hopes that you will heed this review, I would say “The Lily and the Rose”. It’s a great track that really encapsulates the album’s strengths and minute weaknesses. It goes from classical/opera flourishes to black metal and back again. Every song on the album is longer than 6 minutes so it can get a little trying when listening but I think the diversity of the styles Madmans Esprit conveys is more than enough to hold your attention. “Blood, Cum, and Shit” is another track to check out. Although the title screams “ridiculous”, it’s very much the antithesis of that. There are some jazzy keyboards in the beginning that I didn’t pick up the first time I listened to the album and it gives it a very off vibe but not in a negative way. Once you hear it, I think you will pick up on it. Also, I did notice that the songs are sung in two different languages. Some in Korean, some in English. Even though I don’t care about lyrics (necessarily), I always enjoy when there is multilingual aspects to the vocals. I think it’s because there tends to be inflection differences between languages and it really lends to the rhythm of the song.

I would certainly like to write more but words wouldn’t do this album justice. So I will end with this very typical but useful tool: Madmans Esprit sounds like if Solefald and Cobalt were really into having sex with each other while Cradle of Filth, Dio, Sigh, Hammerfall, Blut Aus Nord, and Deathspell Omega all played a game of Risk in the room adjacent to them. Really though, check out this album. It’ll be interesting to hear where Madmans Esprit goes from here because this album is a really great introduction. Also, there’s an ep/demo out before this that contains a cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I was able to watch a live rendition of the song and it’s every bit as batshit crazy as you would expect.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris S
February 24th, 2015


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