MEAN STREAK – Trial By Fire (2013)
Swedish old-school European metalers MEAN STREAK already have two albums under their belt, but I never heard about them before.
Seems that for the band’s just released third effort “Trial By Fire” they wanted to create an ’80s inspired, equally heavy and melodic opus focused in the polished & commercial sound of that decade driven by sharp guitars, stabbing keys and thunderous rhythm section. And they hit the nail on the head for the most part.
Much of “Trial By Fire” success comes from how the band chose to record it. The band passed on the modernity of Pro Tools, used natural drums with without any sample replacements or artificial reverbs, and bumped up the breadth and depth of the vocal arrangements. Mean Streak writes songs with a good melody and rock groove to move the heaviness, and then loads them with twin guitar leads.
Of all these things, perhaps the most noticeable are the strong vocal arrangements, with a remarkable output in the layered harmonies obtained on the choruses & backing vocals.
Songs “Shine On” (watch video below), “Hangman’s Daughter” and “Let Love Rain” are particularly impressive. The latter sounds like a Mutt Lange produced Def Leppard song, only heavier (which is probably what the band was seeking).
Otherwise, you have some terrific melodic metal cuts across the album. There’s speedier numbers in “Trial By Fire” and the anthem “We Are One” featuring a fluid lead break recalling Accept’s ‘Metal Heart’ more catchy yet powerful moments.
Then there’s the toe-tapping, fist pumping, groove of “Bad Blood”. At times guitarist David Andersson, bassist Peter Andersson, and drummer Jonas Kallsback align as a formidable militant charge – check out the Accept / 220 Volt oriented “Thunderbolt” and the subtle hard rock shuffling that occurs within the aforementioned “Let Love Rain” to understand the band’s creative chemistry and intuition for some killer hooks and songwriting with this record.
Andy La Guerin as a singer has many facets to his voice that lend themselves very well to a versatile hard rock and metal palate. He can be playful and inject his personality at times in material that’s more stripped down and bluesy such as “Tunnel Vision”, restrained and tender for the acoustic ballad “Cast Away”(love the cello accents on this one), or all out balls to the wall metal and fierce for the title track.
Don’t be afraid by the ‘gritty metal’ artwork cover; although “Trial By Fire” packs heavy music and thunderous moments all is delivered with an extremely polished sound, arrangements and melodies galore.
Mean Streak accomplished their goal of creating a proper melodic metal album in the best ’80s tradition spiced with classic hard rock winks (I love “Let Love Rain” and “Shine On”) really well produced in a crisp and clear time-honoured way for maximum effect.
01. We Are One
02. Shine On
04. A Heartbeat Away
05. Bad Blood
06. Cast Away
07. Hangmans Daughter
08. Into The Night
09. Let Love Rain
10. Tunnel Vision
11. Saints Are Falling
12. Trial By Fire
Andy La Guerin – Vocals
David Andersson – Guitar
Thomas “Plec” Johansson – Guitar
Peter Andersson – Bass
Jonas Källsbäck – Drums