RANDY ROSE: The Masquerade

Brief overview of all things Randy Rose: Younger brother of Roger Rose, the two brothers being the only permanent members of Mad at the World, a prominent fixture in Heaven’s Metal circles starting in the 80’s as a synth-pop band, morphing into hard rock territory, and then again into mellower rock fields, and revived again in 2018 with the express purpose of revisiting each of their “eras” with a new album. MATW is currently recording the 2nd album of those revisitations via a crowd funding campaign (madattheworld.net). Randy had a solo career, starting with 1991’s Sacrificium, during and after MATW, his solo material being decidedly more metal-oriented than most MATW output. Often compared vocally to Glenn Danzig, Randy’s artistic work tends to be darker, groovier, and more 70’s-centric than MATW, his lyrics grappling with topics others might not touch for being too “real.” It can be somewhat difficult to distinguish MATW from Rose, since both brothers often perform on both projects, other than the aforementioned stylistic differences.

It is interesting to note that all of Randy’s solo work (not including Mothership and several other projects) are listed as Rose, with the exception of his first – Sacrificium and this one – The Masquerade, which are listed as Randy Rose. Is there a reason for that? Quite probably. A question that will have to wait for an interview. Work on The Masquerade began after the last Rose album Songs for the Ritually Abused came out in 2017, but due to many obstacles and setbacks, the album was finally released in 2023. The Masquerade seems to be less of a concept album than the last, and more a collection of songs sharing thematic content, summed up by the odd cover art of a black cat mask. We all wear the masks. In that regard, Masquerade is more accessible than Songs for the Ritually Abused.

The Masquerade brings the signature Rose sound, reveling in an analog 70’s hard rock aura, with vintage instruments, and a decidedly Sabbathy bottom end. Less of a Queen sound on this one versus the last, and more of a 70’s hard rock meets stoner rock. “Snowblind” starts the album out strong on a groove train, interspersed with slower passages and ending with a piano piece and guitar. Heavy airplay on Heaven’s Metal Streaming Radio on this one. “The Masquerade” continues lulling you into a fuzz-induced coma with its slow and heavy groove, drums punching through the mist of Randy’s deep intonations. “Padlock My Heart” is the first injection of hope into this den of doom and depression. God never forces Himself on anyone but waits patiently until they willingly accept Him. “Monster Mask” continues the mask theme of how we put up facades to hide our true selves. The chorus with all the bgv’s is very Beatlesque. The heaviness factor is back for “The Monsters Waltz” with the grim message that “Running and hiding is the way to close the door.” The problem with a living sacrifice is that you and I keep getting off the altar. In “All My Strength” Randy opines “when will I break, till I finally take in Your simple truth.” “Across the River” also has its Beatles moments and talks about needing a new heart. In Ezekiel 11:19 God replaces our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh. For “Jugglin’ With No Hands” the guitars transition to more of a classic rock flourish, before the album closes in the slower, but no less hypnotic introspective “Take Off the Mask,” with all the voices (lead and background) concluding beautifully “Love reaching for you – Jesus, your love is all I cling to.”

Randy Rose is vital as ever, showing us just how ugly the human condition is, and in Whom our hope should lie. I love the guy’s voice and style and find it an essential part of our scene- past, present, and future. The first 2 songs are the ones that will stick with you. Cover art of a black cat on a black background is a little monochromatic, but the music is good and will pull you into a deep groove. randyrose.info (Behold!) (3.5 out of 5 stars)

About Author