Album Review: Johnossi – Mad Gone Wild

Grammy-winning Swedish rock duo Johnassi take us on a tale of madness and, ultimately, hope on new album 'Mad Gone Wild'

The Breakdown

'Mad Gone Wild' is raucous and rousing, uncomfortable at times...energetic as hell and lively, uplifting, haunting, and very, very raw.
Bertelsmann Music / BMG

If you’ve not heard of Johnossi before, the Swedish rock duo – consisting of guitarist/vocalist John Englebert and drummer Ossi Bonde – are already six albums and a Grammy Award down and with this, their seventh record, the duo have dug deep into their own psyches and imaginations to realise something part-concept album, part catharthis, and entirely exhilarating and hypnotic.

Drawing on influences including Franz Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ and Scorcese’s ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Mad Gone Wild’ is a heavyweight, whirlpool-ride portrait of one man’s descent into madness. Says Englebert, “Both Ossi and I have gone through hard times with anxiety and depression, and a big part of the way we deal with that is through our music. At the same time we were really inspired by things like Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker, and the idea of being so deeply isolated even though you’re constantly surrounded by people. We wanted to explore the dangers of living in your head too much, and ask questions like: ‘Is there an exact point where you go from sane to insane? What is that point? And aren’t we all insane in one way or another?’”

‘Mad Gone Wild’ is a dark record, sure, but it’s energetic as hell and lively, uplifting, haunting, and very, very raw. There’s obvious comparisons to Royal Blood and, at times, Biffy Clyro without Simon Neil’s Scottish brogue, but it’s definitely more than that; angry, fuzzed-up, punky, and with a definite groove pushed by Bonde’s powerhouse backbeat. There’s ‘proper’ lo-fi garagey-ness on ‘Yeah Yeah’, the almost psychedelic nature of piano-led (courtesy of keyboardist Mathias Franzen) ‘Wizard Of O’s’, the new-wavey, post-punk of second single ‘Koala Before The Storm’, and the straight-ahead noise-punk of opener and paean to knife-play and three-day-benders ‘Give Me The Knife’.

‘Mad Gone Wild’ is raucous and rousing, uncomfortable at times, but blessed with the sort of space and melody that only the minimalist nature of small numbers of musicians can make; there’s breath between the instruments, for all the aggression and energy of the tracks, and an airiness within the angst that’s sometimes missing when multiple instruments compete for the same sonic bandwidth. While there’s (spoiler alert) ultimately no resolution to our fictional hero’s fate by the end of the eleven tracks, there’s still a sense of optimism and eagerness for the future about the record:

“It’s been a recurring theme in all our music to always see the light at the end of the tunnel, even when there’s so much darkness,” says Engelbert. “Especially at a time when so many people have been struggling with mental health, I think it’s important to stay focused on that light, and remember that you can go through extremely difficult times and still come out in a better place once you get to the other side.”

‘Mad Gone Wild’ does exactly that.


  1. Give Me The Knife
  2. Something = Nothing
  3. Yeah Yeah
  4. Koala Before The Storm
  5. Interlude (Free in Thought)
  6. Mad Gone Wild
  7. Killer (Slowly Fantasize)
  8. Black Hole
  9. A Passenger
  10. Wizard Of Os
  11. Screaming

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