By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
MELIAH RAGE – KILL TO SURVIVE (1988)
While I’m sure there are other bands that fit this category for me, Meliah Rage is the first band that comes to mind where I’ve seen them in concert but had never heard their music on an album before now.
The Boston-based metallers are fittingly described as both power and thrash metal. The Kill To Survive album is their debut release. Though it comes in a bit short with just seven tracks on the album, it is the quality of the material that matters to me here.
Mike Munro’s vocals inhabit the band’s music and gives each track he’s featured on both an ominous and sinister feel. He has the requisite growl in his delivery but thankfully never quite fully descends into what you would call “cookie monster vocals”.
The music is powerful, brutal and at times kind of hypnotic. There’s no lack of metallic crunch but there’s a harsh edge of melody to each song at the same time. The guitar work (from Anthony Nicols and Jim Koury) is outstanding. Shredding the six string, the guitars give the material the fuel to go full bore right from the start.
The album opens with “Beginning of the End” which kicks things off in a gripping manner. The band’s ability to grab your interest right at the start gets the listener immensely fired up.
The band gets even heavier on “Bates Motel”, which should need no explanation for the inspiration behind the track.
The “Meliah Rage” song is an instrumental. I would normally bemoan the lack of vocals but for a song that clocks in at 7 plus minutes long, there isn’t a second where I wasn’t drawn into this track.
The more thrashy side of the band’s playing shows up best in “Deadly Existence” and “Impaling Doom”.
I know the term “slow” is relative when talking about thrash metal, but the album’s slowest track, “Enter The Darkness” is still pretty fast and I felt my blood pumping while it played.
Meliah Rage combines the heavy and thrash sides of their songwriting most effectively on the album closing “The Pack”. It’s brutal, unrelenting and displays a committed passion that sweeps you up into the song and slaps you around for the length of the track.
While I’ve known of the band’s existence for decades, the fact that I let their recorded output slip through the cracks for me is a pretty sorry admission to have to make. I have at least one more Meliah Rage album on cassette and I can lay hands on some CD editions of other albums. If they are anywhere near as brutally brilliant as the Kill To Survive album, I may just have found another new band to be musically passionate about for myself.
NOTES OF INTEREST – Godsmack frontman Sully Erna played drums for Meliah Rage and is featured on their Unfinished Business album.
I saw the band live in concert at the 2007 Locofest in Mansfield, MA. The day long concert was headlined by Heaven & Hell, Alice Cooper and Queensryche.
The title track to the band’s Barely Human album was featured in an episode of the TV series The Shield.