Madina Lake – ‘The Beginning Of New Endings’

By Louis Kerry

A blast from emo past circa 2007, Madina Lake were once Scuzz TV’s hall of famers, with captivating videos and plenty of sell out shows thanks to their charismatic live performances. The poster boys of a scene filled with eyeliner, studded belts and shouting at your dad, they were tipped for greatness, and had the heartstring-pulling hits to back it up.

As time moved on, so did most of the scene, and all the Aidens and Kill Hannahs went on to different projects. By 2013 Madina Lake were on an indefinite hiatus, and the shattered remains of noughties emo became nothing more than Slam Dunk Fest nostalgia acts.

It’s been almost a decade since the band’s last full length release, and emo is no longer such a dirty word. Following the beginnings of their reunion a few years back, Madina Lake have woken up from hibernation and marked their official comeback with a brand new EP, ‘The Beginning Of New Endings’.

‘Playing With Fire’ slams straight into where they left off – this atmospheric and high-octane opening track has all the energy of their younger selves. With a fun breakdown at the end of the track, the band make their all or nothing mission statement clear.

Vintage Madina Lake with a relentless approach, ‘Love is War’ has a surprisingly heavy intro, featuring a riff that gives them a thrash metal badge of honour. As you headbang to Mateo Camargo’s impressive guitar work, front man Nathan Leone keeps things in check with lyrics that are as emotional as ever – time to wipe away the tears and running mascara just like old times, this track is the most reminiscent of their original run.

As well as crafting an anthemic chorus, ‘Heart of Gold’ displays Leone’s genuinely inventive lyrics that are potentially a career best for the band. The drum breaks from new recruit Chris Morris adds a lease of life to the song at all right moments, and this track marks where the band are stylistically better than any other.

Unfortunately, Leone still falls short vocally – the singer’s unique style is something that always let them down in the past, and that trend has continued here. Their most sentimental fans will continue to love this, but it’s not welcoming to a more casual listener who’s more familiar with either the polished vocalists of arena rock, or something grittier from the metal corner of the alternative world. A purgatory for mediocre vocal chords.

Trying to reignite the depth of storytelling they were best known for, the EP ends on an unfortunate whimper with an eight minute self-indulgent mess named ‘Tiny Weapons’. It’s a collection of tidy ideas and cohesive musicianship that misses the mark, trailing off into an excessive void. At this point, Leone has gone beyond an acceptable amount of time doing his trademark quiet, whisper-like vocals instead of singing with any actual power behind it- sadly, the band’s reliance on slow builds doesn’t pay off when the crescendo is an off key chorus.

For better or worse, Madina Lake are back. There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia, we are all indebted to the bands that soundtracked our youths, and this EP is an expressive outpouring from a band not ready to be remembered solely for their past accomplishments. While it’s a little rough around the edges with some bad habits that need buffing out, ‘The Beginning of New Endings’ is proof that Madina Lake still have a bigger story to tell.

Louis Kerry

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