In the interests of full disclosure, Maverick have been my favourite band for some years since I saw them opening for The Poodles in London on their European tour. That said I can approach this, their fourth album, with an unbiased view and I have to say, it is truly outstanding! Recording was supposed to commence early in 2020 but the global pandemic put the skids under that idea. As a consequence of the delays the band have had the opportunity to further refine and hone the tracks that eventually were laid down. There were a number of practical difficulties, not least the fact that their new drummer, Jason-Steve Mageney, is from Germany, and finding the window of opportunity for him to travel to Northern Ireland to record his parts was challenging! The line-up also sees the welcome return of guitarist Ric Cardwell to the fold.
The opening track, Falling, hits you right between the eyes with a full-on, hard rock assault. The structure of this song is a little unconventional but boy, does it work!! The twin guitars of Ryan Balfour and Ric work brilliantly without them tripping over themselves. They each have very individual styles but they complement each other perfectly with their individual solos.
Track 2 is Thirst opens with a fine soaring guitar solo from Ryan before diving into a more melodic number that will be more familiar to anyone that has heard their earlier work. Dave Balfour’s vocals are truly sublime here and Richie Diver’s bass line gives this track some awesome punch.
Never is another delicious melodic rock track with enough ‘whoaas’ to keep audiences busy! There’s a great singalong chorus here too and another fine guitar solo from Ric. Wonderful lyrics and wonderful melody will make this a real crowd pleaser when live performances resume.
Track 4 is the first single to be released from the album, Switchblade Sister, and what an awesome track this is! This has got the lot, screaming guitars, pounding bass, rich backing vocals and Dave’s lead vocal ties the whole thing together in monumental fashion!
Bells Of Stygian sees a return to the inspiration provided by mythology that has been prevalent in many of Maverick’s earlier work. A wonderfully atmospheric track with some of the finest guitar work that you could hope to hear! Great riffage and soaring vocals make this a stand-out track from this great body of work.
Track 6 is, appropriately, Angels 6. There’s huge power delivered in this track that will get heads banging relentlessly. Axeman Ryan will bludgeon you into submission with his solo, so wear a tin hat!
The Last One reveals the more sensitive side of Maverick with a power ballad of epic proportions! This song is dedicated to the loved ones we have lost and was accompanied by a truly moving video. It was decided that a video showing the band rocking out to such a song would be highly inappropriate and therefore friends and fans were invited to send in photos of their lost loved ones for inclusion in this lyric video montage. The result was wonderful and a great accompaniment to a beautiful song.
Dying Star will shake you out of your reverie with another great full-on rocker! Ric delivers a truly blistering guitar solo here and it’s so good to see his return to the band.
Light Behind Your Eyes is classic Maverick in every sense. The twin guitars take centre stage again here and Richie’s bass gets a good look-in too! Audiences will be singing along to the chorus here for sure!
The album closes with Ares, another track inspired by mythology, and what an epic track this is! A dark, powerful song this, displaying what Maverick does best! This is the way to end an album! The chanting at the end of the track is truly demonic.
In summary, this album encapsulates all that was best from their previous two albums, Big Red and Cold Star Dancer, both fine albums in their own right, but very different! I feel like with Ethereality, Maverick have cemented the future course of their musical direction. Is this the best Maverick album yet? Without a doubt, yes! The production is outstanding, the song writing is just superb, and the attention to detail, right down to the artwork, is fantastic! This album serves to confirm that Maverick are most certainly one of the finest melodic hard rock bands on the scene.
Ethereality is released on 1st April 2021 on the Metalapolis Records Label.
Words: Nick Luxford
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