[6.5/10] In 2008 Michelle Meldrum was writing for the band’s third release, when she was suddenly stricken with a cyst. The cyst prevented blood flow to the brain, so the guitarist ultimately succumbed to her illness and passed on unexpectedly. Her surviving bandmates decided to soldier on and complete the material as a tribute to Michelle’s passion for creating molten metal hymns. So four years later, the remaining members have finally recorded an album with Laura Christine assuming all of Michelle’s guitar parts.
The results are definitely a mixed bag, but along with Gene Hoglan on drums and Michelle Madden on vocals, Meldrum manage to release an album that pays tribute to their fallen leader. Now when I say mixed bag, I should point out that Christine does an admirable job on bass, rhythm and lead guitar, but her playing ability falls short of Michelle’s strength of creating monster riffs in all her musical projects. Christine does her best to deliver competent riffs on tracks like “Blackened Blue” and “Walking Point,” but there are definitely songs that are much weaker.
Certainly it brought my enjoyment level down a bit, simply because I couldn’t process the style of the music. At times I felt there were Pantera influences, then a wonky-sludge of groove and a hint of alternative sounds to round out the music found on this disc. A song like “Money Shot” displayed some silly lyrics, but I found Michelle’s offbeat vocals on “68 Blonde” irritating, and “Mayhem” came across as a poor man’s version of Lamb of God. I found the closing track “Greenlee” sound like Danzig light and it just didn’t work for me.
There’s no doubt the band was striving to have versatility for this release, but attempting to be different with each song is the biggest flaw here. The early tracks mesh well, but the breakdown is evident when you get into the middle section and moving forward from there. Obviously the completion of this album after Michelle Meldrum’s passing has deeply affected the psyche of everyone involved. Meldrum has definitely lost some uniqueness and creativity, but I give these three brave souls a shout out for continuing on in her name.
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