CD REVIEW St. Madness + Prophet & The Cowboys Of Apocalypse

Band(s) : St. Madness + Prophet & The Cowboys Of Apocalypse
Album title(s) : Vampires In The Church / Saintanic / The Edge
Label : Nasty Prick Records
Distributor : (own release)
Release date(s) : 2006, 2009, 2010
Release(s) : CD

Lead singer Prophet sent us a nice package including the 2 last albums by his band St. Madness, and his solo album, which he released under the monicker Prophet & The Cowboys Of Apocalypse (and a t-shirt gift for our editor-in-chief, let's not forget that!), so I thought I'd give it a “package” review as well!

This prehistory of Phoenix, Arizona based Metal act St. Madness goes back as far as 1993, when Prophet started to front the band Crown Of Thorns (not to be confused with the band by that name from Stafford, Virginia), which released the 1994 album Loneliness Is Black and was folded in 1997. That same year, and with different musicians, I guess, Prophet not only founded St. Madness, but also released its debut album Spiritual Visions. Their aim: making fun of “evil”. 1998 saw the release of sophomore album God Bless America, which was followed by the EP Scare The World the year after. In 2000 the band would release a full-length by the same title, then...a sorts of hiatus, which was filled somewhat with the 2003 compilation album We Make Evil Fun. While it doesn't explain the hiatus up to that point, Prophet was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October 2005, but thanks to surgery and chemo therapy he was pulled through. Perhaps this touch with death was what he needed to get the band back in gear, who delivered the album Vampires In The Church (aha!) in June of 2006. In March 2009 the band then delivered the album Saintanic. St. Madness was honoured in 2010 and 2011 at the Phoenic Music Awards, getting prizes in the category “Rock Artist Of The Year”. The band is currently putting the finishing touches to a new album, tentatively titled Canonizing Carnage, to be released in May.

Stylistically, St. Madness plays a Heavy Metal with Thrash and Gothic flavourings which is mainly riff-oriented but never devoid of some ice thrown-in solo guitar parts. The band occasionally pulls back on the gears for calmer interludes, allowing me to dub a song such as “Arizona” and “Ever After”  as semi-ballad (or Heavy ballad), or “Covered In Blood Again” (which has some real nice slide and acoustic guitar) as Psychedelic Country/ Southern Rock (these songs all on the 2006 album). In other songs the calmer passage merely serves to let the other part(s) of the song come through that much heavier. Prophet has a slight hoarseness to his voice, which he uses both in somewhat clean mode ànd in a rougher one with some added scream to it. The latter allows the band to bring a relatively decent cover of Panter's “Walk” as a tribute to Dimebag Darrell, whom had been killed in December 2004. Turning our attention to the 2009 album, we find the band giving us a lesser amount of “ballads” (only the album closing “You Are My Light” - which actually includes some piano at its end – classifies in that category...the calmer passages in some of the other songs only serving as counterbalance for the heavier parts rather than as a ballad infusion), again venturing into Country psychedelics (the song including a fiddle) with the also Gothic flavoured (the topic, you know) “BBQ-U”, and bringing us no less than two covers (a relatively good version of Ozzy Osbourne's “Crazy Train”, and a truly “Thrashed-up” version of J.J. Cale's hit “Cocaine”). In between, the band also plays around with some sound collages (“Don't Piss Off Satan” and “Demons In My Nutsack”) and added samples (part of a speech from former President of the US Bush Jr. in the album opening “The Art Of Terror”, and a telephone message at the end of “You Are My Light”, thus opening and ending the album with a sample!). Remarkable about both albums, is their length, the first lasting 64 minutes (for 15 tracks), the latter almost 70 minutes for 16 tracks!

Besides being dedicated to Heavy Metal, Prophet (real name Patrick Flannery – and you'll excuse me if I haven't told you the names of his bandmates in St. Madness, but they all go under pseudonims, namely Christian Satan on guitar & backing vocals, Devlin Lucius on the bass, and Dcay on the drums) has always had interests in other types of music, with a big admiration for the outlaws in Country music, such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson, and it's in an attempt to give these people a tribute, that he started writing the 9 songs which would eventually end up on his solo album, recorded with a couple of friends including mainly Brandon Mohlis (on guitar, bass, harmonica, and occasional vocal) and Tracy Kimbrell (on mandolin, banjo and other guitars, as well as keyboard), and guest appearances of several others. Two songs (the album opening “Arizona” and “BBQ-U”)are songs respectively on the 2006 and 2009 St. Madness albums, the first thoroughly re-arranged in an acoustic version, the latter, I guess, just taken off the St. Madness album (and constituting the lone heavier song on this album), alongside the unannounced 9th song, a cover of Rolling Stones' “Paint It Black” (including sitar play). Released in 2010, the album won Prophet the “Record Of The Year” prize at that year's Phoenix Music Awards.

I regret to have to tell you that I've found no Internet spot with music from Prophet's solo outing, but I've found twó for St. Madness, namely (www.) myspace.com/prophet667stmadness and (www.) myspace.com/stmadness, and the nice part is, there's no overlapping in the total of 19 tracks posed there! As for my rating, I would give the St. Madness material a nice 85, and the same for Prophet's solo album, making for an average...

85/100

Tony.