Album Review – Shadowqueen – Living Madness
By ANDREW McKAYSMITH
I WAS recently given the opportunity to chat to bassist, vocalist and rock goddess Robbi Zana for my radio show and podcast series.
Zana’s talent includes the ingredients that entertainers must possess: enthusiasm, a clear voice and articulate views on important matters. But the real ace that Zana brings is her powerful voice. Living Madness works because Zana’s comrades in Shadowqueen give her adequate opportunity to showcase her magnificent vocal range.
The music on Living Madness is best described as Black Sabbath’s more upbeat moments (think “Never Say Die”) meeting Pink’s ‘rock’ material (think “Just Like a Pill”) if Pat Davern from Grinspoon were ever to obtain the gun slot as the hit-maker’s guitarist. There is a contagiousness to many of the tracks, an anticipation that a hook is just around the corner and there are certainly enough bangers to ensure it is far more than the excellent lead tracks “Open Your Eyes” and “Waiting on You”.
“Sacred Ground” is a killer album cut that should give the live arena a serious workout. Watching Zana belt out the chorus alone would be worth the price of admission to a performance. Opener “Ruin Me” is the feel-good driving music essential for those frustrating peak-hour suburban jaunts when you get stuck at one too many red lights. The mentioned “Open Your Eyes” and “Waiting on You” offer accompanying videos readily available on YouTube and those cuts really do set the albums tone.
Si Hopman (guitar and backing vocals) knows how to offer the necessary restraint that so many rock guitarists can’t. The manner in which he has recorded his guitar allows the album to breathe. I am no fan of the so called ‘big’ production that has been deployed through Foo Fighters and Spiderbait albums as it leaves very little room for the percussion’s nuances to affect a song. Hopman’s guitar is akin to a snarling Doberman through a cut such as “Tonight” but it does not overstay its welcome by crowding drummer Alex Deegan’s percussive foundation, metaphorically speaking.
Will the album do what it certainly could do and reach a broad audience? Possibly. Now that’s not a pessimistic statement by any means. It’s does offer an insight into the challenge that excellent bands with a great album face when confronted by the vast options to promote an album to the weary and click ready abyss that is the standard Gen Y and Z smart phone user. The quality of the entire Living Madness package will deserve more than a cursory listen by the denizens but will they give it a chance?
An entertaining and a very well thought-out album. The rock release by any artist through 2017 (given its release date) that I have had the opportunity to sample.