Review by Darren Smith for MPM
When I decided to put this album in my cd player yesterday, I was pottering around in my office and thought I’d give it a listen whilst finishing some jobs. Well, that plan went out the window straight away. It’s not often these days that an album stops me in my tracks but ‘Ethereality’ did just that.
As the opening vocal onslaught came bursting out of the speakers I must have let out a loud “F**k” as my wife came in to ask what was wrong. “Nothing” says I, “but you just got to listen to this, it is so f**king good!”.
Well, that was it, I stopped what I was doing, got comfortable and just took in the majesty of what can only be described as a breathtaking, jawdropping slab of high-grade explosive rock n f**king roll.
Somewhat ashamedly, I am going to admit that before yesterday I had not had the pleasure of listening to Maverick, despite a friend of mine from another publication constantly bending my ear about how good they are. To him, to them, I apologise unreservedly and will make more of an effort next time he fights the corner of a band.
‘Ethereality’ is the fourth full length release from this uber talented bunch from Belfast, Northern Ireland who formed in 2012. It follows their debut EP, ‘Talk’s Cheap’ which came out in 2013, debut album ‘Quid Pro Quo’ from 2014, that saw them tour with Swedish rockers The Poodles and second album ‘Big Red’ in 2016.
That led to another European tour stint as support to Treat and some appearances on some of Europe’s most renowned festivals, including H.E.A.T Festival (Germany), Wildfest (Belgium) and the UK’s Rockingham Festival. Their 2018 third album ‘Cold Star Dancer’ saw them undertake their first European headline tour along with another big name support slot, this time for Swedish Glam Metallers Crashdiet and an appearance at Rock The Ring in Switzerland along with arena packing acts like Whitesnake, Tesla and Def Leppard.
In December 2019, Maverick started the recording of this, their stunning fourth album, unaware that the Coronavirus pandemic was about to bring their efforts to an abrupt halt.
Eventually though, the album got completed when all the members could get back together and on April 1st, ‘Ethereality’ will be available for public consumption. Believe me it is well worth the wait and I have a sneaky feeling, will end up on plenty of “Best Albums of 2021” lists.
Preceded by three single releases, ‘Switchblade Sister’ in December 2020, ‘The Last One’ in January 2021 and the album opening ‘Falling’ in February this is an album that according to Metalapolis Records contains all the Maverick trademarks. They say “It combines the catchy, hookline oriented songwriting from ‘Big Red’ with the heaviness of ‘Cold Star Dancer’”. I am clearly going to enjoy catching up on what I have missed!
‘Ethereality’ is an album that offers its listeners everything. It has plenty of out and out rockers, a couple of mid-tempo almost ballad type moments and some radio friendly tracks that should help garner the band the bigger fanbase they quite justifiably deserve.
There are plenty of air guitar and table tapping rhythm section moments to really get you going that compliment the vocal tour de force that is evident from the get go to the last hurrah.
With summer around the corner, this is an album that should be played loud, whether that be with the roof or windows down in your car or whilst you are sipping a cold one in the garden, this needs the volume turned up for maximum listening pleasure, whether that just be yours, or your neighbours too.
As I said, that vocal burst from David Balfour that heralds the start of the album on ‘Falling’ is just quite simply showstopping. When the rest of the band kick in straight after, it is clear that what is unfolding before your very eyes, or ears, is something very special indeed.
Scintillating guitars, crashing drums, rip snorting riffage and lung busting vocals are a theme throughout the whole album and are clearly evident on the opening number. This is hard and heavy melodic rock at it’s most regal.
Another monster riff and yet more dazzling guitar work from the six string duo of Ryan Balfour and Ric Cardwell are at the forefront of ‘Thirst’. Throughout the track, David Balfour leaves you in no doubt as to the power and prowess in his vocal range and delivery.
Two tracks in and I am in awe of the set of pipes the man possesses. But, this is not just about a top notch vocalist, this is about the collective that are Maverick and boy do they make good music. This is rock music that I like, the style that I grew up listening to and the type that has made me a happy rock fan since the 80’s.
‘Never’ is a really beautiful slower placed mid-tempo number full that comes complete with emotive lead vocals, heavenly, harmonious backing vocals and a rhythm to the track that is just undeniably graceful.
‘Switchblade Sister’, the first track to be released from the album is a real belter of a tune that if it had been released into the world at the back end of the 80’s, early 90’s would have surely been a massive hit across radio stations and music television.
Songs like this are what makes rock music for me so appealing. It makes you sit and contemplate all those great tracks that you have heard many times before as it sits alongside them so well. I can think of a number of bands who have gone on to play multi thousand seater venues from that era who have tunes of this calibre in their arsenal.
‘Bells of Stygian’ is a thundering track that closes out the first half of the album. Different to the tracks that have preceded it, it has a beauty and beast quality to it as the band switch between tempo’s on what is a real stand out moment on ‘Ethereality’.
Starting the second half of the album is ‘Angels 6’, a track full of out and out riffage, screaming guitars, a chest destroying beat from the oh so powerful rhythm section of Richie Diver and Jason-Steve Mageney all played out behind some divinely melodic vocals and harmonic backing vocals.
‘The Last One’ is possibly the most commercially friendly track on offer and if the album has a ballad then this is it. Radio friendly it is and I am sure if a national or international station was to give it regular air play, then their listeners would soon be talking of Maverick alongside other more well known heavyweights of the genre.
That leads into ‘Dying Star’, which is built around yet another sumptuous solid riff, that just cries out for some air guitar participation. Just listen to that stratospheric vocal that takes the track to its close as well.
Now we are down to the last two tracks of what for me will undoubtedly be a highlight of my musical 2021. I don’t say that lightly either as I firmly believe that with no touring or live shows in the last 12 months, bands have been so productive in writing and we will surely witness a bumper year for amazing new music.
Light Behind Your Eyes’ is the penultimate track and is all about the plundering beat, chugging riff that are front and centre throughout the track along with yet another divine guitar solo. I could continue to wax lyrical about those vocals but the best thing is for you to buy the album and enjoy them yourself. That leads us to ‘Ares’, the album closer and what a monster of a track it is to draw things to a conclusion.
The riff and the beat is oh so heavy, a real behemoth if you will and if the nine tracks that went before it did not get inside your head and chest, then this one certainly will. I really hope that the band add to this to their live set as the closing vocals really make me think that this could see the crowd getting massively involved.
‘Ethereality’, what an album! Play it loud, play it lots. The summer is coming and this could well be the album to blast far and wide as you enjoy the warm air, a bit like you did with some of those classic albums in your collection from when you were younger.
If you like your rock music full of guitars that you can air guitar too, drums that you tap your feet to and with dazzling vocals that you can really enjoy, listen to and sing-a-long to then Maverick is what you need to be listening to.
I am not sure if it is, but if the world is in any way a fair and just place then in the future when people talk about famous Mavericks, they will be nodding appreciation to these Northern Irish musicians and not discussing Tom Cruises role in Top Gun or how James Garner was a card shark in a western TV series.
Maverick, I salute you on a stupendously brilliant release and thank you for making this weekend rather special!
- Switchblade Sister
- Bells Of Stygian
- Angels 6
- The Last One
- Dying Star
- Light Behind Your Eyes
Ethereality will be released on CD and vinyl on Metalapolis Records through Cargo on April 1st 2021
David Balfour – vocals
Ryan Balfour – guitar
Ric Cardwell – guitar
Richie Diver – bass
Jason-Steve Mageney – drums
Talk’s Cheap EP (2013)
Quid Pro Quo (2014)
Big Red (2016)
Cold Star Dancer (2018)
Maverick Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maverickbelfa… Maverick Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/maverickband… Maverick Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/maverickbelfast —————————————————————————————————— * PRE-ORDER THE RECORD ‘Ethereality’ HERE: http://maverickshop.bigcartel.com *