At the end of March alternative rocker Paul Maged put out his latest album, an energetic new release titled “The Glass River.” With this record, we see the songwriter returning to the scene with a new perspective on the political struggle the United States now faces. Based in New York City, the singer has been on the front lines of music’s reckoning with the current state of affairs, and he’s decided that writing songs is the only way he can interpret the wild and crazy world that we live in.
“The Glass River” is a six-track EP that explores the themes central to Maged’s music, one of which is reckoning with the rampant violence that many Americans feel helpless to stop. On the album the rocker wears his political message on his sleeve, and isn’t afraid to let the world know what he thinks about the horror we’ve all seen in the news as of late. The driving song “Gunz 4 Hire” was written by Maged after the Orlando nightclub massacre in 2016, and the rage present on the track seems only to have grown as the singer and songwriter has witnessed a torrent of other mass shootings torment the nation, like the tragedies that occurred at Las Vegas and Parkland.
His music video for the song features a collage of news footage showing the gun violence that has plagued the country, including videos taken from the massacres at Las Vegas and Orlando. Also, some statistics on gun violence appear at the beginning, adding to the track’s heaviness. The song simmers with the sheer frustration present in Maged’s lyrics, which drive forward at breakneck speed along with distorted guitars and throttling drums. Maged’s blend of operatic hard rock, though, doesn’t land very well. Instead, it feels a little awkward and silly when compared to the subject matter it attempts to confront. Though some may enjoy the almost dizzying amount of shifts and turns in the arrangement of the music, Maged also sidesteps any cohesiveness he had at the beginning of the track in the process.
Maged’s energy doesn’t let up as he we move onto the next song, “Corporate Hell (The Legend of Tooly McDouche.” This time his anger is directed at corporate life. “Welcome to corporate hell,” he sings, “It’s cooking you fast and it’s killing you slow.” The coolest part about the song is that it sounds like it could be part of the original Mortal Kombat soundtrack, or one of those other 90s movies that made hard rock sound like a middle school daydream.
“For the Sea” is probably the best song on the album, focusing more on Maged’s powerful voice as the center of the ballad. Swirling and cycling like the ocean he’s singing about, he seems to find more of the balanced sound he’s looking for.