Released: 2006, Screaming Ferret Wreckords
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
After staging a from-out-of-nowhere comeback with 2004’s BARELY HUMAN, Boston thrashers Meliah Rage return with the long-delayed THE DEEP AND DREAMLESS SLEEP. Guitarist Tony Nichols sent me a CD-R of the finished product in September 2005 but various delays pushed the album’s release back nearly a year to the now confirmed September 12th in-store date. Four-fifths of the original band is on THE DEEP AND DREAMLESS SLEEP (vocalist Paul Souza replaced Mike Munro for BARELY HUMAN and original drummer Stu Downie is finally back on board) and the production is notably better than BARELY HUMAN. Souza’s vocals are more threshed out and various effects are added. Also, the overall sound is much fuller and cleaner this time around, as the guitars of Jim Koury and Nichols are clear, crunchy and melodic. THE DEEP AND DREAMLESS SLEEP is a very modern sounding album but certainly not forced or unnatural. Don’t expect Meliah Rage to suddenly pop up on radio but this collection of songs is very listenable. The basis of the music is still very much metal but certain songs feature a modern rock edge that opens up a whole new angle to the band’s sound. The cult status of albums like KILL TO SURVIVE and SOLITARY SOLITUDE have generated renewed interest in Meliah Rage and while the almost twenty year gap since the release of those albums has softened the edges of the band’s music, fans will still find plenty of headbanging moments on THE DEEP AND DREAMLESS SLEEP.
The opening salvo of “Permanently Damaged” explodes with an aggressive barrage of guitar from Nichols and Koury that switches back and forth between razor sharp riffs and melodic passages. The chorus is one of the best on the album making this track a sure-fire hit and obvious live staple. “Undefeated” follows a similar path with its sledgehammer intro, smoking guitar solo and driving groove forged by Downie and bassist Jesse Johnson. Souza’s hard-edged vocals really work on this track and are reminiscent of “Hate Machine” and “Invincible” from BARELY HUMAN. “God and Man” is a strange track with spoken verses that inch along at a slower pace. The harmonized vocal effects are eerily similar to Alice Chains, but without the raw emotion. “Curse” will please fans of Meliah Rage’s classic sound and the early power/thrash roots showcased on “Bates Motel.” Racing by at a hundred miles an hour, the guitars are fast and heavy with Downie abusing his kick drums from start to finish. With its ominous tone and hook-filled chorus, “Last of The Wanted” could be a Godsmack or Alice In Chains song. Moody, dark, yet accessible at the same time thanks to Souza’s versatile voice. “Take What You Want” sits in the classic Meliah Rage vein of mid-paced, crunching metal a la “The Witching.” Sizzling guitar, driving double bass and ear-catching melodies—just what Meliah Rage has been preaching since 1988.
On the negative side, the title track is rather unsettling in its arrangement, in that, the cleanly sung verses build the song up to be a melodic gem but the droning chorus simply sucks the life out of the song. It is almost as if the two fragments do not match and were strung together to form a song. “Twisted Wreck” echoes Nichols’ love of motorcycles and the fear that any rider faces every time he/she hits the road, but the shouted, gang-style chorus is heavy-handed and just doesn’t work. Meliah Rage can be heavy (check out “Motor Psycho” from BARELY HUMAN as an example) but something just fails to click here.
I openly chimed the return of Meliah Rage in 2004 and I was really hoping the band could deliver once again on THE DEEP AND DREAMLESS SLEEP. Fortunately, Screaming Ferret Wreckords opened their wallets and allowed the band to craft a record befitting of their style because this is definitely a major step up from BARELY HUMAN sound-wise. What Meliah Rage needs to do now is let their inner metalhead fly and write the next batch of songs with a gasoline-fuelled streak of speed without losing their melodic base. THE DEEP AND DREAMLESS SLEEP hangs around the mid-tempo range a little more than I would like and with only eight tracks measuring 36 minutes, the field is left a little bare but it sounds like Meliah Rage is ready to take on the metal scene once again and I can’t wait to hear it.
KILLER KUTS: “Permanently Damaged,” “Undefeated,” “Curse,” “Last of The Wanted,” “Take What You Want”