Metal is, despite it’s propensity for renegade imagery, a genre that chased trends as much as any other. Whenever someone comes on the scene with an original sound, it is soon to be copied and rehashed by dozens of others. I don’t say that as a criticism, since innovating is hard, and plenty of great music comes from those followers. It’s simply a fact of life that we need to acknowledge. What amazes me is that while certain sounds have been aped to death, there are others that never find that kind of collective footing, even when the inspiration is beloved in the metal community.
Bruce Dickinson found his sound as a solo artist when he released “Accident Of Birth”. That album, along with “The Chemical Wedding” and “Tyranny Of Souls” are a trilogy of nearly flawless metal, and a monumental artistic statement. They are nearly universally adored by traditional metal fans, with “The Chemical Wedding” being often named one of the greatest metal albums ever made, and yet very few bands have attempted to capture the sound and spirit of Bruce’s best solo work.
Night Mistress is one of the few who have, and they are without doubt the best to have tried. “Into The Madness” is a phenomenal metal album, and the closest thing we are likely to get to another Bruce Dickinson solo album anytime soon.
What makes an album like this work so well is the ability to combine chunky, heavy riffing with smooth melodies, without making it sound like an uncomfortable cut-and-paste job. Very few bands that play deep-throated, rumbling heavy metal like this have any melodic sense at all, and to hear Night Mistress so easily include catchy choruses into every song is a feat that deserves applause.
A song like “The Place I Belong” is practically perfect. The guitars are thick, the riffs are heavy and chunky, and the hook is to die for. As a song, it’s every bit as good as you could hope for, and it’s not alone. There are plenty of gems on this record, in the form of exceptional tracks like “Longing For The Devil” and “Grieving Stars”. This is the brand of modern heavy metal that needs to be more common, with simple riffing that grabs your attention by being heavy and catchy, not dazzling you with the number of notes being played. It may not be trendy, or popular, but it’s damn effective.
There are one or two tracks here that aren’t quite at the same level, but that’s a minor criticism. “Into The Madness” is a great record, and is right up there with the best metal releases of 2014. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Bruce Dickinson solo album, or if you just enjoy good ol’ heavy metal, you need to hear this.