Wednesday 13 March 2024

Meanstreak - Blood Moon (2024)

Country: USA
Style: Thrash Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 2 Feb 2024
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Metal Archives | Official Website | Twitter | Wikipedia | YouTube

Here's a name I haven't seen in a long while. Meanstreak may be better known today as the home of three women who happen to all be married to current members of Dream Theater, but, back in the eighties, they were just a thrash metal band and a pretty good one too, part of a a first wave of prominent American women in extreme metal, along with others like Debbie Gunn of Sentinel Beast and Ann Boleyn of Hellion and New Renaissance Records. Their only album came out back in 1988 and they had split up by 1994 but they appear to have reformed a couple of years ago with an initial single and EP to announce their return. It's great to see them back.

I remember them being faster than they are on this album, but I went back to Roadkill, which I've not listened to in years, and rediscovered that they were never the fastest thrash band from that era. However, Rubberneck, easily the fastest song here, is more comparable to their old material than the other three tracks here. The Dark Gift and Oh Father sound like thrash songs but simply have no interest in speeding up to thrash speeds, settling for technical heavy metal. Giant Speaks dips a little more into classic heavy metal, trawling in a little Black Sabbath to their slower paced thrash sound.

Needless to say, Rubberneck is my favourite song here, even if it doesn't approach the pace of the songs we might instinctively think cover the same lyrical content, like Whiplash and Rattlehead. I should add that it isn't about that at all, instead serving as commentary on the objectifying male gaze. However, I liked all four tracks a lot, partly because they manage to maintain an admirable intensity even on slower songs. To my mind, when thrash bands concentrate on the mid-pace, they often lose the intensity that thrash personifies. That doesn't happen here.

For instance, Oh Father stays stubbornly slow but in a claustrophobic way as if it surrounds us. It's never interested in generating many notes but all of them sustain and Lisa Martens Pace's bass is a thing of joy here, easily audible and powerfully relentless. Giant Speaks, which is the single off this EP, is the only chugger in the traditional sense. It's certainly faster than Oh Father but that's not the same thing as being fast.

These songs remain imaginative too. When other thrash bands slow down, they tend to play in the same way, just slower. Here, the slower pace gives the various members opportunity to do things that they either couldn't do or which just wouldn't work at speed. Bettina France, for instance, is able to endow her vocals with a lot of nuance here, playing with intonation to impart emphasis on how she wants to say something, not just on what she wants to say. On Roadkill, she was more like a typical soaring heavy/thrash metal vocalist. Here, she sings without losing any power.

And that's pretty much it, because this is only a four track EP running under twenty minutes. Only Oh Father exceeds five minutes and then only by one more. I hope the band get good feedback for this and a strong welcome back from the community too. They toured a couple of years ago as the support for John Petrucci's solo tour, which made sense if his wife Rena Sands, a founder guitarist of Meanstreak, was there anyway, but they deserve that sort of promotional push entirely on the merits of their music. I never got see them live back in the eighties and quietly assumed that that was never going to happen. Now it seems possible and I look forward to the opportunity.

No comments:

Post a Comment