Meshiaak – Alliance of Thieves
Release Date: August 19, 2016
I have to be honest, this trituarating gem almost slipped right under my nose this year. That I found it at all is due solely to our amazing Metalholic readers. Meshiaak is an Australian progressive thrash band hailing from Melbourne, though that may be an oversimplification of their sound and style. The band was founded in 2014, and features former 4ARM vocalist and guitarist Danny “Tomb” Camilleri, Bane of Bedlam bassist Nick Walker, Teramaze guitarist Dean Wells, and almighty skinpounder Jon Dette; he who has served behind the kit for the likes of Testament, Slayer, Anthrax, and so many other metal heavyweights.
The band recorded the album in Oakland, California at Greenday’s Jingletown Recording Studios. They tapped the legendary Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Destruction, Doro, Evergrey) to mix the record.
The album stampedes out of the speakers with the driving crush of “Chronicles of the Dead”. Camilleri’s voice delivers a fantastic balance of grit and howl with clear enunciation. Dette’s stickwork it pummeling and instantly compelling. The song manages to blend speed and groove seamlessly. Well’s first solo on the record is both soaring and melodic. The entire song resonates with a sense of cinema, which is highlighted on the rolling outro.
“It Burns at Both Ends” reclaims the uptempo feel of the album opener, setting the listener up for an elbow to the throat. The combination of Walker and Dette’s punchy rhythms along with the dual guitar attack of Camilleri and Wells carry the song. There is an underlying Arabian vibe threaded through the song. “I Among You” opens with a chugging riff and once again I am enthralled with the band’s ability to so eloquently mesh muscular riffs and blast beats with such melody. The breakdown on this song is inspired, and Wells swerves up another memorable solo.
The tempo slows a bit for one of the album’s two advance tracks, “Drowning, Fading, Falling,” which feels almost serene in contrast to the first four songs. Camilleri mixes it up vocally with some almost spoken word whispers on the verse. The baleful menace is never far off though. Stunning fretwork here by Wells on a song that shows off the band’s more progressive aspects.
The album’s second single is “At the Edge of the World;” which feels a bit ill-placed in the sequencing as it feels like the companion track to the previous cut. Camilleri continues to move through clean vocals, spoken whispers, and his trademark growls. Crisp riffs ebb and flow through the song’s winding crescendos and valleys. Dette performs with military precision, and Wells delivers another of his spiraling solos.
“Last Breath Taken” comes out swinging with both fists on a track built for the pit. The song has a feeling akin to something Machine Head might write. This song is followed by the relentless punishment of “Maniacal” and the Slayer-like brutality of the title cut. Dette’s kicks get a work out on these two.
The album’s final cut, “Death of an Anthem,” opens with an acoustic interlude and Danny’s deep cleans. The song builds and into a soaring peak before diving back down. Great harmonies and another fine solo from wells. The song serves as galvanizing climax to the record.
Alliance of Thieves ascends beyond any particular sub-genre of metal and is a testament to metal mastery. While hailed as one of the best thrash albums of the year, I believe that title sells this release short. The album is one of the finest debuts of the year, and among the best metal releases of 2016. There is no clutter or filler here, just 48 minutes of riff-heavy, spine-grinding metal with strong hooks, percussive rhythms, and memorable melodies. Meshiaak has created a beast of a record that is certainly deserving of far more attention that it has been afforded so far.