2 Aug 2017

Madonnatron - Madonnatron (album review)

Madonnatron's debut album came out on Trashmouth last week, and although it's a record I've been living with a while, I'm still finding new aspects of their self titled album to fall in love with. A four piece from South London, Madonnatron are: Stefania, Charlie, Beth and Joanie. I'm not sure what they're like as individuals, but when these heads assemble in a certain formation and go into battle armed with guitars and the name 'Madonnatron', they're a ruthless, dangerous and bewitching prospect.

The vast majority of the singing is a beldam chorus, intwining harmonies and dis-harmonies from all corners of the band to create a terse, sinister and stark atmosphere. These vocals sound more like spells, longform hexes being repeated to summon demons, than they do song lyrics. Snippets like the depraved barking of "Sangue neuf! Sangue neuf!" do very little to dispel any rumours that Madonnatron are in fact Wiccan sorceresses that just so happen to have done an album.

The whole record's sound is almost ritualistic, droning guitars set the soundscape for the band's own sinister chanting; on Violent Denial, what sounds like a sitar drone is greeted by unholy vocal harmonies that incessantly drive their way into your psyche in a matter of minutes.

The music that accompanies such barbed vocal harmonies is nothing short of brilliant, either. Alternating between a ramshackle punk stomp (Headless Children, Mother's Funeral, Be My Bitch) to a spectral prowl (Sangue Neuf, Bad Woman), the band's swampy, foggy guitar lines recall the Birthday Party and Gallon Drunk at their most sleazy and sinister, whilst an organ drones and hums like a phantom looming.

Never a weak moment, Madonnatron's debut excels in turning the everyday into the dark and sinister. More a coven than a band, Madonnatron is a gnostic jinx of a record that will leave you utterly spellbound.  Whilst the creepy atmospheric songs get the disturbing twilight mood just right, the full throttle wiccabilly moments are probably the best; the band at the height of their powers working at full potential.


(Words: Cal Cashin)