MELDRUM - LIFER (Reversed Records)
(Review by Stefan)
Metal addicts those who belong to the older generation definitely know that Michelle Meldrum was the guitar player in 80s Metal fame Phantom Blue, the great female fronted band which released 3 beautiful full length efforts between 1989-1995. These works are still fresh in my memory, as if they were released yesterday. But actually, princess of Metal Michelle Meldrum started her musical career with Thrash Metal act Wargod and as far as I know, the band only brought out a demo cassette that was so fantastic in the field of US Thrash Metal – in search for a studio recording of Wargod, you have to look out for the compilation album entitled Metal Massacre 8 where the band shines with the track ‘Intimate With Evil’! The story of Wargod was of short duration, later on Michelle joined another Thrash band named Post Mortem, maybe you never heard of the band but I do and can tell that I’m really proud having their EP in my possession!
As written before, Phantom Blue brought us a lot of Heavy Metal enjoyment over a period of 6 years but unfortunately, the story came to an end. We had to wait until 2002 for Michelle’s top notch skills – she was back with her own band, Meldrum! One of the best drummers in the world, Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Testament, Silent Scream, Death and many more!) joined forces with Meldrum… this big guy was a close friend, a soulmate, someone she could trust! Moa Holmsten took command over the vocals on Meldrum’s first two albums “Loaded Mentala Canon” (2002) and “Blowin’ Up The Machine” (2007). The recording for a third effort entitled ‘Lifer’ were started, all of the songs were basically written awaiting to finalize but fate to hit sometime later on.
On the 18th. of May 2008, Michelle Meldrum fell into a deep coma after a cystic which had grown that bright, her brain got a rough time due to a restriction of bloodflow and oxygen. Two factors that determine life for a human body, we lost one of the most brilliant female singers ever, Michelle Meldrum on May 21th. 2008. World wide fans were in mourning and showed their sincere condolences… maybe hard to say but for true fact is that life goes on even after the loss of a cherished person.
Right before the tragedy took place, Meldrum was pretty busy working out its third album “Lifer” and it was Gene Hoglan who wanted to release the album whatsoever after Michelle passed away. Well, it took a few years but finally, Meldrum’s “Lifer” album is still be delivered by Reversed Records… an album all in remembrance of almighty guitarist Michelle Meldrum! Now featuring vocalist Michelle Madden from Australian act Tourettes and those familiar with this band are definitely aware of the wide range of vocal use of Mrs. Madden. Her vocal performances are impressive no matter what – she’s able to let sound her throat clean but watch out when she starts to growl lie an evil dog that rips the flesh of your bones. For real, Michelle Madden is one of the most unique singers at the moment – you’re warned!
The one that takes command over the bass, lead and rhythm guitars is Laura Christine and thank God she’s so amazingly good. The way she moves up and down the fretboard of her tools speaks to my imagination. Stand sharp for loads of monster riffs and outstanding leads mostly resulting into real shreds. According to what I’ve read, she based herself on the original guitar demo works played by Michelle Meldrum herself. Is she succeeded/is she a good replacement? I can be very positive because both substitudes Michelle and Christine serve the best of the best all in memory of the one and only, fallen mistress of American Heavy Metal M. Meldrum.
“Lifer” has a BIG production to offer, massive sound asking to reduce the volume to the maximum. The vocals let you constantly surprise but I honestly did not expected something else from Michelle Madden. While listening to Tourettes, the other act she sings in, I knew she would take me by the throat again. Actually quite unbelievable how she can make the switch from clean to very extreme vocals. You have to hear it before to believe it. Tracks like ‘Money Shot’ or ‘Inamorata’ and the most brutal ‘Mayhem’ give more clarity about what I want to say with this. Opener ‘A Toast To Romance’ starts like this: “cunt – c.u.n.t. – it’s a term of endearment”, a significant song with an exciting rhythm and impressive vocals featuring fantastic guitar works and of course, world talent drum tactics of mighty Gene Hoglan aka The Atomic Clock! To open up a tribute to legendary Michelle Meldrum with these words feels a bit direspectful to me but who am I to judge about that?
Some of the songs give me somekind of a strange feel deep down inside because of the loaded, quite weird twists and turns like ‘Paid’, ‘’68 Blonde’ and ‘Greenlee’. But that’s why this album might get a high score from the fans of original, extreme, groovy type of Metal music. I’m hooked on all that has to do with great guitar picking and have a real good time listening to massive riffs at ‘Blackened Blue’, ‘Walking Point’ and ‘Inamorata’. Throughout the entire “Lifer” album there is absolutely no shortage of very good guitar solo’s which is another value to me!
I’ve been listening to “Lifer” for a couple of times so far and have to admit that some of the songs are not my alley. I’m fully aware of the fact that besides Gene Hoglan, also Michelle Madden and Laura Christine have a whole load of talent to offer. Several times, a nod (’68 Blonde’/’Blackened Blue’) towards original founder M. Meldrum comes along which raises the valuation factor of the current band members to the top. A very gesture of awareness but following my own heart, “Lifer” can’t fully charm me. On regular times, all sounds a bit too complicated and I can’t feel comfortable with that.
Still, I can shut down this review with a very positive note – “Lifer’, an album that was meant to be released a few years ago but fate has apparently judged differently. To Gene, Michelle and Laura - nothing but dignity for all the delivered efforts still to bring out the album. I’m sure all was done with honorable pleasure, appreciation by the grace of Michelle Meldrum (September 28, 1968 – May 21, 2008). Order your own copy at: http://www.reversedrecords.com/
My Points: 80 / 100