Madam Adam : Madam Adam

by Mark Allen
Staff Writer

Madam Adam’s palindromic moniker is fairly unique within the modern hard rock hierarchy, but their actual sound has certainly been done before. Good thing for Madam Adam that they do it better than most, managing to mix in the mandatory components demanded by the modern rock masses while simultaneously stamping their own identity on a genre that is bloated with cookie-cutter bands.

Sure, Madam Adam sound similar to many other acts—Steadlur, Burn Halo, Saving Abel, etc.—but their saving grace is that they have a keen knack for writing good songs built on infectious hooks. This skill was suppressed during their indie era, back when the band was called Red Handed, but when they took a shot at the big leagues, they knew they had to come up with payoff choruses in order to attract major label attention like the star quarterback flexing his muscles to impress the head cheerleader. So, yeah, these choruses are carefully calculated to curry commercial viability, but should that matter as long as the choruses are good? Does the high-school geek care why the hottest girl in his class has her tongue wrapped around his nether regions or does he simply enjoy the fact that she does?

The album sports superb sonics, slathered with a glossy coat of studio polish by producer Skidd Mills, who has honed his talents on chart-toppers such as Skillet, 12 Stones, and Pop Evil. He is justifiably considered one of the go-to guys on the scene when you crave a big, thick, guitar-driven sound. He does an outstanding audio engineering job with Madam Adam, merging beefy modern riffs with melodic marketability.

While many mainstream hard rock albums simply slog sluggishly through a dozen or so tracks that are indecipherable from one another, Madam Adam makes each song stand on its own. The first single, “Sex Ain’t Love,” is all sleazy ‘80s swagger, but you probably knew that just from the title. This segues into “Fall From Grace,” a stereotypical modern rock anthem that is a perfectly fine song but pales in comparison to the catchy single that preceded it. “Drugs” is loaded with scorching hot licks that could’ve come straight from the guitar of the devil himself, a flashy, hard-stomping rock ‘n’ roller. The radio-ready rock-ballad “Time Wounds All Heals” offers moody, melancholic atmospherics to compliment the phrase-twisting lyrics. Switching things up is “San Francisco” with its acoustic approach and orchestral strings that achieve only boredom rather than the epic scope the band seemed to be striving for. Thankfully, after this stumble, Madam Adam pick themselves up, dust off their knees, and proceed to hammer the album to the finish line on a heavy rocking note.

Scott Gould sings a little differently than the raspy Chad Kroeger/Josey Scott vocal style that is often associated with the genre, instead coming across a bit cleaner and capable of both raw power and energetic emotion, sort of a cross between Wes Scantlin (Puddle of Mudd) and Jamie Rowe (Guardian; Adriangale). It’s a good voice, well-suited to the music, lending it the kind of edge that is needed when swimming in the polluted waters of modern rock.

As good as this release is, it is not suitable for all palates. Diehards who lament that the current rock/metal scene has languished into a withering wasteland that stifles creativity while fostering a cloning mentality will most likely find Madam Adam to be too similar to other popular bands on the radio these days. But modern hard rock enthusiasts hungry for loud guitars, crunchy riffs, commercial hooks, and choruses that stick in your ear with the stubborn tenacity of taffy in your teeth should eat this up as readily as Adam devoured Eve’s forbidden apple.

Genre: Modern hard rock

Scott Gould (vocals/guitar)
Drew Reindollar (guitar)
Kenny Varner (bass)
Matthew Reindollar (drums)

Track Listing:
1. Sex Ain’t Love
2. Fall From Grace
3. These are the Days
4. Frustrated
5. Wicked
6. Forgotten
7. Can’t You See
8. Drugs
9. Time Wounds All Heal
10. The Art of Lying
11. San Francisco
12. I’m Not OK
13. Silence

(Note: Track listing here may differ from retail copy.)

Label: Roadrunner Records

Hardrock Haven rating: 8.7/10