Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Meliah Rage - Masquerade
Musical Style: Heavy Metal/Thrash Produced By: Rich Spillberg
Record Label: Metro City Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2009 Artist Website:
Tracks: 9 Rating: 90%
Running Time: 56:43

Meliah Rage - Masquerade

The history of Boston based Meliah Rage can be traced to 1987 when it was founded by guitarist Anthony Nichols.  A group “driven by extreme passion for an art form appreciated by many but misunderstood by the masses”, Meliah Rage rounded out its initial line up with vocalist Mike Munro, guitarist Jim Koury, bassist Jesse Johnson and drummer Stu Dowie prior to signing with Epic Records for its 1988 full length debut Kill To Survive.  A second studio album, Solitary Solitude, followed in 1990, but with grunge overtaking the musical landscape Meliah Rage ended up dropped by Epic.

Meliah Rage regrouped in 1996 to put out Death Valley Dream on the independent label Backstreet Records.  Unfinished Business, a collection of B-side singles and reworked studio tracks from 2002, preceded Paul Souza replacing original vocalist Mike Munro for Barely Human two years later.  Sousa continued to front the group on the 2006 release The Deep And Dreamless Sleep.

Masquerade, Meliah Rages’ seventh full length album from 2009, finds vocalist Mike Munro returning to the fold.  What Munro brings with him back to the band is his new found faith.  Check out the following statement from his MySpace profile:

“My God loves me no matter what.  I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and He makes me whole.  I have Jesus as my Savior and He is the key to my Heavenly Father. 

God sent his Son so we can live with Him for eternity in Heaven.  This fact was a crossroads for me.  I had a tough time dealing with my background – my past actions and what I wrote about in my songs for Meliah Rage.  If anything, my lyrics pulled people away from God.  I thought, “How can God forgive me for that?” He can… and He promises that He will.”

Munro, who contributed lyrics to 8 of the 9 tracks on Masquerade, is very forthright about his faith throughout the project. Just check out the lyrics to “Lost And Found”:

I am He who searches mind and heart
The Faithful and Truth the Morning Star
I am Son of Man King of Kings
The First and Last to Him I sing

The albums title track is every bit as upfront:

I need a Savior.  I need the Son
Fires in the heavens, rolling on and on
Deliverance from the Mighty
Bring me to Your home

Musically, Meliah Rage has always walked a find line between classic heavy metal and thrash.  Masquerade proves no exception.  Fans of Metal Church, Vicious Rumors and the 80’s Bay Area thrash scene will find a lot to like here.  I might also mention Fires Of Babylon (due to the heavy riff emphasis), Armageddon (the vocal approach) and old school Deliverance (nuff said), but I can see anyone into classic US power metal embracing this.

Masquerade finds the group continuing to compose catchy riff driven songs that are heavy as all get out but melodic at the same time (one reviewer who described the group as an “aggressive onslaught of catchiness” hit the nail on the head).  “Chosen”, “Dreamer” and “Last Rites”, for instance, are fast, furious speed metal romps that deliver hooks in abundance while “Whatever It Takes” and “Hour Glass” might slow the tempo somewhat but prove no less memorable.  “Lost Or Found” and “History Will Tell” reflect some of the bands thrash tendencies and “Seeker” a doom-like touch.  The albums haunting title track even mirrors an Alice Cooper influence.

Mike Munro brings a powerful and gruff mid-ranged vocal presence which helps give Meliah Rage its signature sound.  With his attitude-laden and guttural approach, he delivers a ton of charisma while still exercising excellent control over his delivery.  While I hesitate to offer direction comparisons, he reminds me somewhat of Mike Vance (Armageddon) or Keith Miles (Final Axe).

It must be noted that Ronny Munroe (Metal Church) makes a guest lead vocal appearance on “Last Rites” (this is the only track in which Mike Munro does not contribute lyrics).  Vocally, Munroe showcases a similar “tough as nails” vocal style but with a slightly higher register.

Anthony Nichols and Jim Koury form a monster guitar team, imbuing the project with their heavy duty but catchy guitar riffs.  “History Will Tell” and “Whatever It Takes”, with their extensive instrumental interludes, find the two in top form while “Chosen” and “Seeker” reflect a faster side to their soloing abilities.

Production values are heavy and raw but without coming across thin.

Album opener “Lost Or Found” hits with all the force of a runaway freight train.  Driven by relentless riff assaults and precise machine gun-like drumming, the song joins a subtle but persuasive catchiness with Munro’s complementary gutsy delivery.  A statement of faith is made on this one:

Why do you hide? Why do you lie?
Can’t you see that He knows all and all?
All that we do, all that we say
All shall kneel down on our judgment day

I am He who searches mind and heart
The Faithful and Truth the Morning Star
I am Son of Man King of Kings
The First and Last to Him I sing

“Chosen” starts slowly and ominously as a militant drum beat decorates the backdrop.  After roughly a minute, however, the song abruptly takes off in near speed metal fashion, roaring its distance to a plethora of thrash flavored momentum and a youthful energy bordering on the infectious.  A stretch of fiery lead guitar adds the fitting touch.  “Chosen” talks about making the correct choices:

Choose your way, quench your thirst
Black or white
The chosen ones will fight the fight!

Looking back through the haze I see a lonely boy
A rage inflamed by a foolish fear of becoming what he hates
Empty, drained, abandoned days will never be repaid
They frame a mind to do the same or maybe break the chain

He is lost, He is broken he is cracked and crushed He is chosen
Are we lost? Are we broken?  Are we cracked and crushed?  Are we chosen?
I was lost, I was broken I was cracked and crushed I was chosen
Are you lost?  Are you broken? Are you cracked and crushed? Are you chosen?

A quintessential riff driven monster, “History Will Tell” binds an unrelenting impetus with an aggressive proclivity certain to draw you in on first listen.  The guitar driven catchiness is profound, reflected in the songs striking chorus and extensive instrumental section allowing Nichols and Koury to show off their abilities.  Establishing a firm foundation is the focus of “History Will Tell”:

History will tell
If firm foundations last
Where will we end up?
Living in the past

Nations will come and go
But look around the world
But I’ll keep my family whole
With love and faith and hope
I’ll take Him above it all

“Dreamer” proves a five minute explosion of upbeat energy, an onslaught of brazen riffs and hook driven fortitude – the chorus here borders on the mesmerizing - that will refuse to go away with repeated listen.  The band comes across particularly tight in putting in place a thick as it gets low end and near perfect guitar harmonies.

“Seeker” borders on the doom-like.  With a pronounced bass line leading the way, the song grinds through its staunch verses only to break out for a gut-level chorus in which the rhythm guitar asserts itself staunch and firm.  Again, this one slows the tempo but proves no less able with another relevant hook and run of high octane soloing.  “Seeker” touches upon spiritual warfare:

That eternal battle goes on and on
Help me… if you can
Tell me… if this Man
I am blind, I wish to see

Filled with wrath damned to be
Can you help me?  Show some mercy
From this pit I am on my knees
Tempted, taunted, bound by rage
I’ve felt the struggle within

“Hour Glass” starts to an ominous blend of guitar, bass and spoken word delivery.  Picking up in pace as the rhythm guitar crashes in, the song comes across dark and weighty as it moves ahead, giving rise to a propensity bordering on the caustic if not outright trenchant.  “Hour Glass” deals with how fast time passes:

Is it too late?  Is the sand gone?
Hour Glass
Sands of the hour glass flow
Descending down running low
Looking back regrets are few
Legacy left? Or is it one to lose? Just choose

Drowning in the valley
Rising with the Son
Wither to opposition
Or reflect what you’ve become
Sands of the hour glass fall
Draining life one and all
Every woman, child, and man
Will meet their fate
Or choose to understand, By His hand

Tight guitar harmonies dominate the opening to the albums title track.  The song abruptly slows to a quietly played guitar after a minute, eerily drifting ahead in an atmospheric – almost haunting – manner to an overriding bass line.  “Masquerade” picks up in pace over its final minute and a half as the rhythm guitar rebounds to its previous place of prominence.  The need for deliverance is the subject at hand:

I need a Savior.  I need the Son
Fires in the heavens, rolling on and on
Deliverance from the Mighty
Bring me to Your home
Many rooms have been prepared
Please Father may I have one?

Deliver me Deliver me
From this masquerade, oh God Deliver me
Deliver Me Deliver me
You told me who I am, and Delivered me

“Last Rites”, in contrast, represents one of the albums more energetic tracks.  Similar to “Chosen”, it borders on speed metal with its ruthless tempo and snarling disposition.  But “Last Rites” is not all aggression in that the understated hook will have you returning time and again.  An antiwar message is presented here:

Familiar territory, surrender imminent
Destroy the enemy, and leave no evidence
Why can’t we stop the madness, why can’t we feel the flames
That seem to fuel our anger, that seem to feed the pain

A touch of the progressive can be found on “Whatever It Takes”.  This one presents with its share of time changes, starting to an acoustic guitar that slowly builds before giving way to a storm of heavy duty riffs.  Plowing ahead, the song grinds through its weighty verses on the way to a more settled chorus conveyed with the bands trademark energy.  Several extended instrumental runs help carry “Whatever It Takes” out past seven and a half minutes.

Meliah Rage sets the standard on Masquerade.  The bands “aggressive catchiness” is enticing in that the prevalent hooks will guarantee the album will remain at the top of your play list for some time.  The powerful vocals and solid production – not too mention forthright lyrics - only add to the albums appeal.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Lost Or Found” (7:57), “Chosen” (6:15), “History Will Tell” (6:47), “Dreamer” (5:09), “Seeker” (6:58), “Hour Glass” (5:06), “Masquerade” (6:00), “Last Rites” (4:56), “Whatever It Takes” (7:32)

Mike Munro – Lead Vocals
Anthony Nichols – Guitars
Jim Koury – Guitars
Darren Lourie – Bass
Stuart Dowie – Drums

Additional Musicians
Ronny Munroe – Lead Vocals
Micah Sheveloff - Keyboards


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