"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

The Mad Shepherd - "DEMOlition" (CD/EP)

The Mad Shepherd - "DEMOlition" CD/EP cover image

"DEMOlition" track listing:

1. Mourning bullet
2. Drag me up
3. Psychotic taste
4. Undone
5. All shapes wrested

Reviewed by on January 22, 2010

"On this EP, The Mad Shepherd has yet to create an identity separate from their influences, resulting in an album that very much feels like you've heard it before."

Playing a kind of post-grunge metal, Italy's The Mad Shepherd would be right at home on American rock radio, alongside acts like Nickelback and the Foo Fighters. The problem is that there's nothing on their debut EP, the cleverly titled "DEMOlition," that creates any sense of a unique identity that would differentiate them from similar acts.

You've got to give the band credit for its chops if nothing else. Pierluca Longo's vocals have a Dave Grohl quality to them that works well on tracks like "Drag me up" and Psychotic taste." Salvatore Dragone's guitar work is well done, as is Ciccio Leone's bass playing. It was a bit of a surprise to me that drummer Isabel Rontoni was just 17 years old when the disc was recorded.

The opening track, "Mourning bullet," starts well, with an interesting galloping guitar riff, but then heads right into radio rock territory, and Longo's vocals feel a bit covered up. It's not a bad song, but it feels like I've heard it before. That feeling continues with "Drag me up," which sounds like the Foo Fighters in the beginning, and has an Alice In Chains vibe later on. I have to praise the background vocal work by Rontoni and Leone on this one.

"Psychotic taste" has a latter-day Soundgarden feel. It's got "Black Hole Sun" guitars married to Alice In Chains vocals, but takes a long time to take off.

The best track on the EP is easily "Undone," which has an aggressive Black Label Society style guitar riff and an extended guitar solo that lets Dragone cut loose and show what he's capable of. That solo gives this track an energy that is unfortunately missing from the rest of the EP.

"All shapes wrested" features some interesting guitar effects, but seems to be an endless repitition of the same riff. I do like the gang vocals at the end though.

The production on the EP is fairly good, but there are a couple moments where the vocals nearly get covered up. Also, the drum sound doesn't quite have as much heft as it should.

In their bio, the band points out that "'DEMOlition' came out after just 5 months playing together" — and it sounds like it. On this EP, The Mad Shepherd has yet to create an identity separate from their influences, resulting in an album that very much feels like you've heard it before.

Highs: "Undone," which features an excellent guitar solo.

Lows: Many of the tracks just sound too much like other post-grunge radio rockers.

Bottom line: An OK disc, but one without much in the way of originality.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)