Overall Score: 8/10 Songwriting: 8/10 Huge Choruses: 9/10 Creativity: 8/10 Pros: One hell of a comeback: Experimental, catchy and bold. Cons: This should have been a full-blown album.
If there’s ever a time to make an unexpected comeback, the time is now or never. Lockdown or not. And that’s clearly what Madina Lake thought too. Now having spent close to a decade away from the game after wrapping up their three-album trilogy (save for a brief tenth-anniversary reunion in 2017), the band has made a surprise, but very welcome reappearance. That’s right world, Madina Lake is BACK.
Comebacks are never easy but with The Beginning of New Endings, it’s almost like Madina Lake never left. There’s a nostalgic feel to the new EP that harkens back to where it all began with 2007’s From Them, Through Us to You. One of the biggest draws for the Chicagoans when they emerged on the scene was their ability to create stories through music in ways normally exclusively seen in the Progressive and Symphonic Metal world a la Avantasia, Kamelot and Ayreon. Whilst the Disappearance of Adalia Trilogy may be done and dusted, the new EP too follows a concept of its own and was based around the seven deadly sins.
The Beginning of New Endings opens with the bold and brazen Playing with Fire which more than lives up to its name. Even the band self-proclaimed ahead of the EP release that it is absolutely “best listened to at earth-shattering decibels” – and it really is! Just watch out for the speed cameras yeah!? Now if there’ one thing Madina Lake has consistently done well across all of its releases; it’s nailing the opening track time and time again. And that’s no mean feat when you’re talking about the likes of Here I Stand, Never Take Us Alive and Howdy Neighbour. Playing with Fire is no exception on this front delivering a blistering opener from start to finish – like we expected anything less. The chorus will be stuck in your head for days whether you want it to be or not – just like yesteryear when you couldn’t tune into Kerrang! Radio without being subjected to their first single House of Cards.
Pandora collides with Welcome to Oblivion in Love Is War. A speedy anthem with some added dynamics and soundscapes on the intro/outro and verses which can only be described as space inspired. No really it genuinely sounds like a subtle laser tag battle is going on somewhere in the distance as the starry backdrop to palm mute fanciness and lyrics about one-way tickets to the moon and the beautiful aurora of the Northern Lights. Guitarist Mateo Camargo even throws in a snazzy mini guitar solo for good measure. If Playing with Fire needed a rival in the catchy chorus stakes, Love Is War is it.
Silver Linings offers up one of the rawest feeling tracks on the album by way of production. It dives headfirst into familiar Madina Lake territory before morphing its way into a brief flicker of ambience on the breakdown. But it’s Heart of Gold that serves big on a lyric front. Madina Lake has always served positivity, reassurance and overcoming demons and just whatever life throws at you in abundance – lyrically, as a band and as individuals. They live and breathe it. Frontman Nathan Leone brings it in one of Madina’s rawest and exposed breakdowns to date with just a piano for melancholic company; “I won’t let go. I’ve been where you are right now, desperate enough to take any way out. I promise you’ve just got to hold on, together we can chase your demons out one by one.” If anyone needs a pick me up right now, this is your song.
With the EP spanning just five songs, Madina Lake made sure no moment went to waste to showcase their versatility. The mammoth (and rather ambitious) eight-minute track Tiny Weapons, which might just be their most experimental and progressive track to date, provides the standout, unexpected twist of an ending to the EP. It’s unusual for Madina Lake to venture into Machine Head length song-territory, but we’re glad they did. They described it as self-indulgent but it’s anything but. It’s a masterpiece. Tiny Weapons takes the listener on an intense journey, fusing every element you’d expect to see across the bands back catalogue into something hauntingly epic. Sections of it feel influenced by mega-Madina-tunes Stars or House of Cards. You literally don’t know what’s coming next as the song transitions between huge chorus sections and the kind of tinges of ambience you’d expect to see in an Explosions in The Sky record. It’s a powerful and raw conclusion to a blazing comeback from a band clearly hellbent on writing a different ending.
The Beginnings of New Endings EP has everything fans of the band from yesteryear will love. It oozes in catchiness, diversity and nostalgia whilst also moving their sound forwards into the next decade. It retains the bold and exciting, “colour outside the lines” feel that Madina Lake is known for, never once allowing itself to be boxed into a certain sound or genre. But ultimately, it means business and leaves you wanting more. Which is great because according to Bassist Matthew Leone, the band is ALREADY recording a second EP called Superbia to follow on from The Beginning of New Endings. And if this EP is anything to go on, it’s sure to build on what we’re calling the rebirth of Madina Lake.
Madina Lake – The Beginning of New Endings is out on the 25th of September on Strange Entertainment Records. Pre-order The Beginning of Endings in a variety of formats over on the official Madina Lake online store.