Metal Mike is the guitarist most of us have come to know from his time with “The Metal God” Rob Halford in the Halford band. Mike is also now a member of Testament and he’s been a guest on many albums such as Primal Fear and Cans.
As a result of what I knew about his background, I expected a slightly more Euro-metal sounding band with PainmuseuM. This is not as melodic, and is much more aggressive with the vocals being pretty brutal. Vocalist Tim Clayborne is not a melodic or clean singer. To be honest, I was a bit put off by this…perhaps because of my expectations, not because he isn’t good as what he does! After hearing the CD several times, I’ve accepted the vocals and on some songs even think they are great. METAL FOR LIFE starts with an intro before \”Speak The Name\”. This one starts with some deathly growls before the more screamed-styled vocals come in. The vocals are not as over the top screamed as black metal, it\’s more on a moderate Pantera level. The riffing on “Speak The Name” makes it one of the most memorable songs on the CD. It sounds quite thrashy and you can easily hear how Mike can fit into and contribute to Testament. Fans of death metal and thrash might be more into this album than fans of Halford or melodic power metal. However, the songs are not full of blast beats and breakneck speed. A good chunk of the album is mid-tempo with a traditional metal feel. \”Hosana Hosana\” starts out with a more melodic sounding riff before the death-styled vocals come in and they sound a bit out of place over such a promising melodic riff. \”Words Kill Everything\” is more mid-tempo with lots of head banging riffing. \”American Metalhead\” has a main riff that sounds like a mutated version of the Accept classic \”Balls To The Wall\”. It\’s a variation and isn\’t a rip off, but it has the same feel. \”Burn Flesh Burn\” is the first place where there are clean vocals, at least that I noticed, on the chorus. Since this guy can clearly sing, why isn\’t there more of it on the CD? \”PainMuseuM (Metal For Life)\” is one of the better songs on here also with better vocals (not all screamed) and a great chorus.
Your best bet going into this one is to not expect Halford sounding material nor anything that close to the band’s Mike has guest appeared on. The thing to get off on here is the guitars…namely the riffing and shredding. Metal Mike’s feet are firmly rooted in traditional metal and with added nods to more brutal styles PainmuseuM could be a band that could go places. The thing is, will adequate time be put into it when Mike is also in Testament and will be a part of the next Halford album?
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