Friday, September 2, 2011

Meliah Rage - Dead to the World (2011)

It's a miracle that a band like Meliah Rage presses on in the face of all the current neo-thrash, especially when they hail from my own neck of the woods, suburban Massachusetts. The region is essentially a hotbed for trendy hardcore, slam death, metalcore, and grind sounds with only a handful of bands performing in the traditional molds of speed, heavy and thrash, so something like Dead to the World is practically a treat by default. That said, I have found the band's catalog inconsistent in the past. Kill to Survive was a classic in the vein of Metallica, Megadeth and Lääz Rockit, and one of New England's best all-time thrash records, but I lost interest in their material as early as Solitary Solitude, only to find a rekindling on their 2009 album Masquerade (through local imprint Screaming Ferret).

It wasn't amazing, but it was a dynamic slab of traditional Meliah Rage with plenty of solid writing, variation and hooks and choruses that made a steady attempt to grab the listener. Dead to the World follows in much the same vein, a thrasher at heart but incredibly lucid in its grasp of melodic and progressive aesthetics. Mike Munro, their great original vocalist, has stepped aside once more, and the band have brought back Paul Souza, who has a sharper and more melodic voice, which is distinctly less Hetfield. This guy has an inherent spin on his tone that often feels as if you were combining Munro or Hetfield with, say, Mike Patton. But remarkably, he fits in with the band's dynamics seamlessly, whether that's the moody ballad-gone-crusher "Absolute Obedience" or the more flighty, 90s Flotsam & Jetsam-like material like "Up In Flames", "Valley of the Shadowless Souls", and "Cold Cruel Fate".

The band has never been afraid to incorporate clean or acoustic guitars into its writing, and they are balanced throughout the album like a vein pulsing beneath a metal skin, hugely responsible for most of the albums emotional peaks and valleys. They'll often throw out a tiny element of funk or some outside influence, but the most refreshing feature of the album would be the presence of dual melodies which hearkens back to the Master of Puppets era of Metallica. As a huge proponent of that album, I'm always happy to hear successful assertions of the style. The vocal chorus parts are still workable here, even if they're not mind-numbingly immortal or catchy enough to stick on the conscience for long. In the end, Dead to the World is about flush with its direct predecessor in terms of quality. The singer is changed, the sound has expanded, but the band slogs on without abandoning that classical 80s tint which put them on the map in the first place.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

No comments: