Spanish trio Mad-Era hail from Torrelodones, Madrid and they seem to be causing a bit of a stir with their latest release ‘ElectricMegaBlack’. With praise and intrigue coming in from several places, the groove orientated heavy metal trio seem to be making a statement of intent on this second release, and with shades of styles like Pantera, Black Label Society and Rob Zombie being thrown in the mix, there is an element of intrigue present as far as I am concerned. The only things left to do are to answer two questions. The first; “Is this release MegaBlack or is it MegaFlat?” will be answered at the end. The second question is below:

Did you ever wonder what early/mid90’s Pantera would sound like if you added Nu Metal style clean vocals to it?

I didn’t wonder at all. That type of idea never crossed my mind but after several spins of this album, I had a fairly good idea. Across the release there is an unmistakable Pantera influence in every aspect of the sound. The guitar tone is thick, it is very dominant and it has that unmistakable high gain feel which Dimebag was known for. There are plenty of Dime-inspired tricks and fills across the album and drum wise, you can hear the Vinnie Paul styled groove flowing. If you loved Cowboys, Vulgar and Far Beyond Driven, then this release is certainly something you will want to sink your teeth into. Solid musical groove with that Southern-USA sound Pantera helped shape, but with a more rounded production giving it a fuller feel, it’s good musical groove.

Unfortunately, that is where any element of praise stops for this release.

Vocally, this release is terrible. The whiny and flat vocals, the odd and silly lyrics, the mood and feel of the tracks due to these two factors… Yeah, it’s not good on this front. A total mismatch of vocal style and musical style. It is because of this, the rest of the release begins to suffer and you start to focus in on the annoyances and flaws in the tracks; Opening track “Facebreaker” is rather unremarkable and doesn’t stand out, “Ambitious” rips off the heavy breakdown section and solo from Pantera’s ‘Domination’, bastardising it to their own style, but you can easily hear the echoes of the legendary track from Cowboys From Hell.

This trend continues, “Justice” has some potential, a slightly less irritating vocal presence and some good heavy spots, yet the shadow of Pantera is looming over it. “Addiction” is basically a rehash of “I’m Broken” but done in the style of ‘Re-inventing The Steel’ with Nu-Metal vocals, it’s something you’d best skip truth be told. “Melt” is the longest track on the album and there is only one real solid spot in it, and that is round the instrumental half-way section… If the picture wasn’t clear enough it should be by now; Mad-Era are good instrumentally (provided you enjoy the Pantera-lite experience) and unremarkable vocally.

The only true moment of originality on this release is the track “Running Low”. It has a very bright and upbeat alternative rock/grunge/groove metal vibe and the way all three are blended together actually works rather well. Even the vocals seem to fit on this one. The rolling groove of the bass and drums, the punchy kick of the guitars, it all goes well until the final third where that Pantera sound surfaces again like an unwanted cousin at a family gathering.

In all, “ElectricMegaBlack” isn’t that remarkable and honestly, I don’t get where the gushing praise other places have heaped on it is coming from. The mismatched approach musically and vocally just overpowers everything else in the release and even when you manage to get past that, it’s just a higher quality production of riffs celebrating 1990-1995 Pantera. If you’re big on that sound, feel the need to always ‘Getcha’ Pull’ and have a fixation on the confederate flag and can look past the vocal mess, this might interest you, but for those who prefer a lot more variety and cohesion in the music they listen to – this certainly isn’t one for you!

(2.5/10 Fraggle)