Portuguese psych trio Madmess deliver a masterclass in stoner rock jams and psychedelic freak outs on their debut LP, Rebirth.
Released: 10th December 2021
Label: Hassle Records
Format: CD / Vinyl / Digital
Madmess are a trio that first established themselves on the fervent underground psych scene in Porto before making the move to London. With a larger scene to get involved with the trio set about building their reputation further. After years of slog, the band are ready to unleash Rebirth; five towering songs of stoner jams and psychedelic freak outs that paint many colours in the mind.
Albatross opens the album and clocks in around ten minutes. It builds gradually with subtle melody and a distinct aura; the kind of aura you get when you know that you’re about to have your mind senses challenged. Guitarist, Ricardo Sampaio, lays down some early 70’s Gilmour style solo work that shrieks superbly. It all helps build the tension. As the track hits the mid point Sampaio and his fellow band mates all converge to flourish. With everything still growing, a bass break down not too far from the opening of the Allman Brothers Band Whippin’ Post leads the song to its close.
Mind Collapse follows in a somewhat grungy fashion. It’s musically reminiscent of some of the earlier Smashing Pumpkins material. Again, the jam is strong and the swish and sway of the music shimmies through your ears. As the pieces are long, there are multiple parts to each track. Mind Collapse uses an early 80’s U2 chiming guitar motif to help paint the picture. The bass of Vasco Vasconcelos rolls around hypnotically underpinning the music. Sampaio blazes up his fretboard once more before the swashbuckling drums of Luis Moura propels the track into infinity.
Vocals on the album are sparse; Mind Collapse has a few chanted lines but for the most part, Rebirth is a record that holds sway instrumentally. Stargazer also has some fleeting vocals.
The title track opens in more subdued fashion before Madmess again go for the jugular. There is an added density to the cosmic palette then band proport here. Emphatic solo guitar work shoots out from the murkier depths; again doffing a cap to grungier influences as well as stoner rock bands such as Sleep and Kyuss.
Shape Shifter is probably the most psychedelic piece on the record. The Pink Floyd is turned up to 11 in the opening strains before inevitable and welcome tempo and key changes arrive. The title of the track is exactly what the song demonstrates; shape shifting. A mid song upbeat, trad rock tempo, really adds more strings to Madmess’ already bursting bow of talents.
Album closer, Stargazer, is another astronomical thing of beauty. A faster pace owes a lot to classic rock gods like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. There is an awful lot going on here. My only gripe is that at the end of the song, I just wanted it to carry on as the closing solo is absolutely mind melting!
Madmess have created a beast of a record that is clearly something that has had blood, sweat and tears thrown into it. You can feel the passion oozing out of the songs at every juncture. Rebirth is a brilliant delight full of heaviness, beauty, glory and sheer joy.
Watch the video for Stargazer from Madmess below.