Saving metal?

The phrase “pure metal” conjures up different images to different people no doubt, maybe it means Iron Maiden, maybe it means the dungeons and dragons and studded belts of Manowar, but to Meshiaak it seems to indicate a thankful absence of anything that could have the suffix “core” applied at its end.

With Meshiaak – apparently the Hebrew word for Messiah – we are squarely in supergroup territory, and the band is made up of  4ARM’s Danny Camilleri and Teramaze’s Dean Wells, the band is rounded out by bassist Nick Walker and Jon Dette, once from all sorts of bands, but it’s his association with Testament, Slayer and Iced Earth that most inform this record.

It would be tempting to say “Alliance Of Thieves” was one of the best thrash metal records of the year based solely on the glorious kick off – almost literally – of “Chronicles Of The Dead” which will surely get Circle Pits starting wherever it is played. Like a modern day Anthrax song, it is a quite brilliant statement of intent, and the twin guitars of it’s follow-up “It Burns Both Ends” do little to assuage the thought that you’ve got this pegged – even allowing for the eastern tinge to it.

But then, Meshiaak change tack at will, the rascals. “I Am Among You” is like a mash-up of Stone Sour and Alice In Chains and “Drowning, Fading, Falling” is a prog metal beast (Teramaze are a mighty fine prog band so Wells is back on home ground here) but even then they can’t resist subverting things and Camilleri displays astonishing versatility throughout what is a real highlight.

Everything on this record is done with a class and panache. “Edge Of The World” is power metal at its finest, and “Last Breath Taken” seethes with rage. Dette, recognised as one of the best drummers around, merrily proves why on the wonderful “Maniacal” while the title track needs to be good to have its name put to this collection and is a foray into groove metal and one which, if it were on a modern day Lamb Of God album, would be seen as a classic.

Keeping things old school with just nine tracks perhaps shows the mindset here, but whether by design or coincidence the last song, “Death Of An Anthem” passes as the “ballad” of the album – but it is a huge slab of metal with a mighty and soaring chorus.

Just sometimes an album comes along that seems to be made for no other reason than the people behind it just wanted to make some music they enjoy. These tend to be wonderful when they drag an audience along too. “Alliance Of Thieves” is exactly that, but it’s a lot more. As well as being one of the most honest metal records so far this year, it is also one of the best.

Rating 9/10