Meatshank is a three piece crossover/thrash band out of Missouri, with a stronger emphasis on the latter genre in terms of how they structure their compositions. They've been kicking around for a few years, and Scavengers is their second self-released album which was released a couple years ago in 2010 but is just now getting a surge of additional promotion. Normally, I don't go out for a lot of the material I hear in modern bands of this niche, because too often do I feel that they rest on the laurels of the 80s forebears like Cryptic Slaughter or D.R.I. and don't offer any sort of ambition or forward momentum. That said, I felt that Scavengers, while not entirely blowing me over in terms of its song craft, is rather a dynamic and hopeful sophomore which doesn't ever come across as either derivative or excessively nostalgic in its execution, and the level of variation employed by the band often pays off.
You definitely get a hint of that explosive, faster paced crossover riffing in the driving tunes like opener "Meet Your Maker" which seems a mix of violent 80s US thrash (both coasts) and some of the splatter core stylings of Cryptic Slaughter or The Accüsed; as riff-oriented as heroes Municipal Waste but not so goofy in its demeanor. However, a good portion of this album is devoted to a more traditional, mid-speed thrashing gait, and here is where the band delivers most of their best riffs, like the bridge to "Rape, Murder, Arson, Rape", or the straight late 80s Anthrax/CoC/Exodus vibes of "Atmosphere of Violence" which had my neck quivering and my teen years flashing before my eyes. I think where the band really explores that pure thrashing side, they actually do a decent job of capturing that decade, with the caveat that the vocals of Vincent Camarillo are more distinctly angry enough that they might have drawn a little influence from Exhorder, Pantera or Pissing Razors.
But to their credit, they vary things up even beyond this, with the atmospheric clean intros to "Sweet Release" and "Hell Road" which are rather well plotted, or the melodic/speed sequence that inaugurates "Symbiotic Annihilation", one of the better songs outside of the admittedly lacking inclusion of the more guttural vocal experimentation. All proof that Meatshank are not just a bunch of skate rats trying to relive another age, but a band actively trying to balance its attack with a well-rounded aural architecture. The very meaty tone of the guitar and its organic interface with the rhythm section only adds to this charm, though I'd certainly like to hear a slightly fatter tone on the bass (since he can obviously play). If I had some criticisms, I think I greatly prefer the more sneering, faster paced percussive vocals than the more 'tough' thrash timbre on the slower sequences, and the rate of sticky, memorable guitar progressions here is only about 50/50, with the leads feeling little more than filler that never capitalizes on the excitement of the rhythms. Sequentially, I found the first few tunes forgettable and then it grew more interesting over the course of the remainder.
Overall, though, Scavengers is not in any way a bad effort, and these guys clearly have the chops and sincerity to go the distance. There's nothing pretentious, cheesy or needlessly complex here, just abusive, street ready thrash, and even if my reaction to the end product was lukewarm, I do sense a caged potential here which might either burn itself out or go nova.
Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]