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October 2, 2022

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Madtropolis (Metal Blade)

By: Vinnie Apicella

Chinchilla-- the name didn't impress me much when I first heard their "Madness" release of 2000. The idea of a power metal band brandishing a name more suitable to one of those cutesy eighties' rock mag guitar-player types pushing instructional tapes on the back page was a bit hard to take seriously. Then it dawns on me, okay, "true" Heavy Metal isn't exactly the stuff of 10pm news stories -- nor was it meant to be. I was soon sold on the catchiness of their delivery -- a well-blended mix of power, speed, and melody, all of the ingredients that led such supreme powers as Maiden and Priest to greatness-- and maybe The Rods, if anyone cared to listen. How's that for dying for the cause. Okay then-- Chinchilla's less reliant on the virtuosity of the many German greats yet very traditionally-minded and more in line with the Saxon's and and Manowar's of the world where "Metal" embodies their very existence with songs that typically question government, religion, and into glory ride-- interestingly enough, they could be the next Pretty Maids if they opted to throw in a good girl gone bad verse now and again. No surprise then to learn their origins reach back to 1988. They've been through the band member turnstile on several occasions but seem solidified since their "Madness" breakthrough on Metal Blade a few years back. In fact to distinguish a minute difference between them is nearly impossible -- a testament to their focus, for sure, but more so the belief in what their doing despite running the risk of redundancy. But then they've had more than enough success stories to follow from, particularly on the German front -- see above. "Madtropolis" thus is more of the same -- if you followed "Madness" and their follow up, "The Last Millenium?" the only real surprise here is that-- well, besides the clever compu-age album art, is the fact that the band can retain the integrity they began with and not miss a beat-- and maybe the fact that you might actually know Fast Eddie contributes a solo without looking first. Sorry Ed, no slant meant, but you're just not that distinctive -- please, no more solo albums! And the beats, bombastic and stiff, owe much to the heavy half steps of the classic era, and go far in exemplifying the "big" sound that pioneered the spirit of Metal's heyday. It's worked for Chinchilla throughout, and it works here, but not without a few overdrawn clich?s in the mix -- "Satellite," why? "Heavy Metal," "Money Rules Everything." They'd work great for resurrecting Dokken's career, but here, a little too syrupy for what is an otherwise potent and well-produced offering. For starters, "The Rise/Fall Of Madtropolis" are near 90 second intro/outros that encase contents such as "Our Destiny," a unifying stein-raising staple that'd go over big on the festival front; "A Dance With The Devil" is a catchy mid-tempo track with thick back up vocs, though we're resolved to acknowledge the necessity of such and German Metal standard of unification through pumping fists and hard charging chants; "When The Sand Darkens The Sun" is one of the strongest pieces here, epic-like and a step deeper in seriousness. Ditto for "Headless Fools" and "Battle Of The World," two dramatic turns documenting misguided principles and might over right. Maybe a slight more "progressive" with on and again mid-breaks of percussive texture, but overall, "Madtropolis" is another mid-'80s style assembly-line Metal model that devours the past 17 years like they weren't even there.
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