Trial By Fire

Mean Streak

The Swedish axe wielders have returned for some hard pounding, just when the clock hit […]
July 18, 2013
Mean Streak - Trial By Fire album cover

The Swedish axe wielders have returned for some hard pounding, just when the clock hit two years of time, they are out of their battleship ready to plunder in the name of whatever is Rock, or Roll or Heavy Metal. No twists and turns, without pandering on trends and countless of other schemes, they deliver the old burning heat of the 80s.  They are the Swedish MEAN STREAK, and from day one, back in 2006, they have been in a streak of releasing great albums, where the ground shakes of the forces of Heavy / Power Metal and the perpendicular enthusiasms of formidable catchy Hard Rock, a place where appeared influences of IRON MAIDEN, HELLOWEEN, GAMMA RAY, ACCEPT, IRON SAVIOR, DEF LEPPARD and WHITESNAKE are evident as the stars up there in the sky above. "Trial By Fire", the band's number three, once again via the local label of Black Lodge Records, is without any exception different from the band's earlier discography, maybe a bit Rockin' things up just a tad bit, but it didn't hurt their efforts on turning out sweet.

"Trial By Fire" is actually a very simple release, taking out the lead guitar efforts that most where insane shreds, yet that truly had a point somewhere and just for the thrill of it. This is something that needs to be mentioned, if I already raised the subject up. This band two great axmen, David Andersson, that last year joined SOILWORK and took part of the band's latest release, and Thomas Johansson, the band's new recruit from TORCHBEARER, where he is in the role of the bass player. In my bill, this duo is quite a powerful unit. Their rhythm guitaring is rather natural to this formation of Metal and Rock styles, but when it comes rapturing with lead licks, their efforts are masterful. Rhythm guitar freaks and fanatics, like yours truly, will have plenty to consume while listening to this piece.

Even though I really relished "Trial By Fire", as a fine piece of 80s divinity, I don't know why but I have to jump head first with a bit of a discontent show and tell, criticism and not bitching. First there is the sound engineering. I felt a bit of an inconsistency when the drums are involved. Take "Bad Blood" or "Thunderbolt" for example, what is that weakened snare sound? So petite and powerless, thankfully it became alive only on several areas throughout the release. Second, if I mentioned "Thunderbolt", main riff too much ACCEPT, as I am a big fan of the track "Monsterman", so it was pretty easy to recognize that one. I am sure that it wasn't on purpose, or anything similar, but it is hard to ignore. To my delight, the song itself didn't rely only this riff alone. Third, the acoustic staging, I would consider it and intermission, called "Cast Away", depressed cry for help. Honestly, with such an energetic song companions, I didn't see this one coming. In two words: absolute turnoff. On the other hand, if it was a bit spicier, like being formed as a power ballad for instance, as this band is so keen towards the 80s, it would have contracted a different reaction.

Other than these three so called complaints, it was yet another MEAN STREAK experience. "We Are One", while being overly obvious as a swift Power Metal bomber, fulfilling its role as a fast speeding bullet opener, garnered my attention and filled me with pride. Lyrics are heroic and ohh so victorious, like plenty of other examples I know. Nonetheless, this is a hit to be reckoned with, especially with that insane solo effort. "Into The Night", a tasty killing buzz, sounding like a younger version of EDGUY, back when they used to release golden releases. Such great vocal harmonies, so catchy and vibrant, hard to forget, and I won't even begin with the suitable riffery written for his scorcher. However, a rather shortened lead guitar effort. "Tunnel Vision", the solid ground, where I found additional exemplary palate of a DEF LEPPARD and WHITESNAKE flavours. It is crisping the Blues just a little, a great vintage Heavy Metal smacker, great posture as a solid hit. "Trial By Fire" allowing you a final melodic MAIDENish jaunt right before ending this shindig. I believe this one to be one of the only NWOBHM incarnations of this entire album, though fresh sounding; it didn't matter when that chunky heavy riff chorus turned its gaze. In a nutshell people, go for this album. I liked the debut better, and a slightly the previous one, but this is more of a Rockin' party, so stick around, it will do you good.

8 / 10


"Trial By Fire" Track-listing:

1. We Are One
2. Shine On
3. Thunderbolt
4. A Heartbeat Away
5. Bad Blood
6. Cast Away
7. Hangman´s Daughter
8. Into the Night
9. Let Love Rain
10. Tunnel Vision
11. Saints Are Falling
12. Trial by Fire

Mean Streak Lineup:

Peter Andersson - Bass
Andy La Guerin - Vocals
Jonas Källsbäck - Drums
Thomas Johansson - Lead Guitar
David Andersson - Lead Guitar

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