Anyone up for a dose of good auld Thrash? With Alliance of Thieves, Meshiaak have delivered just that.
Meshiaak were formed in Melbourne, Australia by Danny Camilleri (4ARM) and Dean Wells (Teramaze), with bass duties covered by Nick Walker. And on drums, they’ve got Jon Dette – yep, over the years he’s drummed for Testament, Slayer, Iced Earth and also Anthrax. So that’s the drum stool well and truly stocked with Thrash goodness.
As an old school Thrasher, I can get quite critical of the ‘new wave’ of bands that have re-ignited the scene in the last decade or so – sometimes to the detriment of me really enjoying something when it comes along. This album already has my over-critical self ready to get going with a moan or two, so when opening number “Chronicles of the Dead” kicks in, I’m happy to say that the critical me can feck off. Strap yourself in, Dave….this is going to be fun.
The aforementioned track instantly does what a good Thrash song should do – that guitar riff, that drumming, that Tom Araya guest vocal (just kidding, it’s not him but it bloody sounds like him) As a statement of intent, Meshiaak appear to be prepared to batter you senseless with this album.
Slowing things down slightly, but not for long, “It Burns At Both Ends” kicks off with an intro that reminds me of Trivium for some reason….not in a bad way though, so if you are anti-Trivium then don’t let that put you off. After that initial minute or so, it kicks back in – an absolute standout on this album is the drumming from Jon Dette – it’s relentless. As is this song in general – it just hammers away at you for over 5 minutes. Then “I Am Among You” comes along with an interesting structure, launching straight into a chunky riff then slowing down to deliver the first verse with it’s almost spoken word vocal and then WHACK! back to that chunky riff. And it works really well, as this song is both a beauty and a beast.
Next up we get a little respite from the thrash onslaught thus far, as the lead single from the album arrives. “Drowning, fading, Falling” highlights the guitar work on this album brilliantly, especially the lead by Dean Wells. I’ve linked the video below if you want to dip in and check it out.
Keeping the tempo down, “At The Edge of the World” is the chance for Danny Camilleri to step up to show off his vocal prowess, especially on the chorus. And check out the guitar solo – oh fuckin’ yes!! It shreds, it soars and it launches back in to the chorus brilliantly. My cap is doffed again.
The pace is upped again for “Last Breath Taken” which has an absolutely huge Slayer vibe to it – so much so that the opening vocals are almost the same as Slayer’s own “New Faith”…and once I hear that I’m singing Holy man open up your eyes instead of the actual lyrics of the song. But don’t take that as a criticism at all – I love that Slayer song. Then “Maniacal” does what it says on the tin – Dette is back with the big drumming, driving this song all the way to the end of the song at the 4:51 mark. Why mention the timing of the end? Well, the only pain point of this song is the added on 53 seconds after the song has originally faded out – unnecessary, and takes away the chance to hear the album’s title track blasting straight in after what felt like a more natural end to the song.
And that title track? Fuck me, give us a chance to catch our breath a bit. It’s my favourite song on the album and it has everything in it – Big riffs? Check! Big drums? Check! Big solos? Check! And the vocals – another tour de force.
Closing track “Death of an Anthem” finally gives a chance to catch that breath. Going for a mid-paced approach, this one again shows off the band’s talents so well and is an excellent choice to bring the album to a close.
The last thrash debut album that left me this excited about the genre was Evile back in 2008 – at the time, I commented that Enter the Grave was generic of old school thrash but that generic was good. Evile then went on to add their own stamp with their later releases. Well, with this album Meshiaak have got the generic bit down but have also added so much more on top to bring things up to date. No messing here – this is a cracking debut album, probably one of the best I’ve heard.
Alliance of Thieves is out now, via Mascot Records.