Blimey. You get to hear a lot of music in this line of work, as I’m sure you’d imagine. So much indeed that an awful lot of it – most, if we’re being honest – just coalesces together into a sort of amorphous mass of riffage and shouting that just rumbles along in the background as you go about your business. It takes a very special racket indeed to cut through the background noise, let me tell you.
So I say again – blimey. Because Meshiaak have produced an absolutely stunning peach of an album that not only cuts through the standard issue sturm und drang being churned out by the world and his wife, it absolutely leaps out of the speakers, scrags you around the neck and positively demands first your attention, then your adoration for the entire length of its three quarter-hour duration. And, mark my words – its attention and adoration that you are going to be happy to give.
Opening with the straight-up thrash assault of Chronicles of the Dead, it’s clear from the get-go that Meshiaak mean business. Sleek, modern (yet decidedly classic) thrash is the order of the day, with the band (formed around the core creative duo of former 4-Armist Danny Camilleri and Teramaze’s Dean Wells) powering through the track not like first-album wannabes, rather giving off the unmistakeable whiff of returning thrash Titans, Lords of all they survey and then some.
But if Chronicles… is a meat n’spuds statement of intent, second track It Burns at Both Ends is a revelatory disclosure of true meaning. Aggressive, yet undoubtedly refined, this jackhammer of a song lays waste to all in its path with a majestic heavy metal assault powered by the consummate drumming of Jon Dette.
You read that right. Slayer and Anthrax man Dette is behind the kit throughout on Alliance of Thieves, and his propulsive percussion work gives this album an undoubted edge. His dynamic contribution to …Ends is an absolute highlight, but the man absolutely, well… slays throughout.
I Am Among You is much heavier, much simpler in intent and ultimately slightly less successful in grabbing the attention than some of the other tracks here; that said, it succeeds entirely in its mission to snap necks, and the solo midway through the song from Wells is absolutely sublime.
Indeed Wells plays out of his skin on next track Drowning, Fading, Falling too, adding some fine, tasteful shredding to the mix as Dette pulls out salvo after salvo on the kit and Camilleri – pleasingly avoiding the trap of adopting a death metal growl throughout – intones with passion and no little fire in the belly. If Trivium could sound this good as a ‘modern thrash’ act in 2016, they’d be a very good band indeed…
By which I mean of course that if Meshiaak were from America, they’d already be media darlings. With the decidedly metalcoreish At the Edge of the World being first in line for ‘single of the year’ plaudits all over a slavering mainstream metal media. It might well end up that way, of course – if there’s any justice it will do, as the song has the sort of emotional refrain Bullet for My Valentine would kill for without ever descending into mawkishness or worse still, commercial pandering. Apart from anything else, it’s another big nod to the fact that Meshiaak are more than just another thrash band.
Did somebody mention thrash? Last Breath Taken has got absolutely bags of the stuff, dripping with class and once again driven with ruthlessly calculated precision by Dette and rhythm buddy Nick Walker. Maniacal carries on the battery, almost as if the band want to remind you that they are, at heart, a bunch of hi-top wearing young pups, but that doesn’t mean it’s just simplistic 1986 worship we’re talking about. There’s an absolute, consummate mastery of the medium being displayed here that absolutely reeks of brilliance rather than tribute or some sort of post-modern tomfoolery, and it’s a mastery that practically renders this band – at this point – beyond criticism. This is absolutely the real deal. So much the real thing in fact that Dette, initially brought on board simply in a session capacity, knew immediately on hearing Alliance… in demo form that he wanted to be a participating member of the band moving forward. A very sensible move!
The title track is another undiluted piece of classic, pompous, epic thrash, but the band saves the best till last – you kinda knew they would, didn’t you? – with the utterly over the top magnificence of Death of An Anthem rounding things out in glorious style, building slowly to an almost Queensrÿcheian conclusion amidst yet more top-shelf lead work from Wells.
Absolutely tremendous, then, and absolutely recommended if classy, and classic, thrash and metal is something that sets your pulse racing.