Mean Streak. I have always loved how that sounds. And how it looks in writing. I don’t know why, it just sounds… heavy. And cool. Maybe it’s because of the Y&T album and song with the same name. I love Y&T, they are one of my favourite bands and “Mean Streak” was the first tune I heard with them. Back in 1983, when it came out, I remember thinking “what a great name for a band”. There was an all female band called Meanstreak, but that is spelled wrong, the words should not be a one word. What is weird is that despite my love for this name, when this band finally arrived, I never checked them out. Not once. Why? No clue. Also, the band plays a traditional hard rock / heavy metal which should be to my liking. So if the download link hadn’t entered my mailbox then I’m not sure whether I’d had checked this album out all. Reading the press release it turns out that Max Norman produced this album. Well, Norman is responsible for the production on Y&T’s awesome Black Tiger (1982) album and he has also produced the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Lynch Mob and Megadeth to name a few – and their drummer is Jonas Källsbäck who also handles the sticks in The Night Flight Orchestra, another favorite band of mine.
All of that is, of course, very good reasons to check them out even without a download link in my inbox. So who are these guys then? Well, today’s line up are Källsbäck, singer and guitarist Andy La Guerin, guitarist Thomas Johansson and bassist Peter Andersson and they are a Swedish act. They formed in 2008, their debut album Metal Slave came out in 2009 and after that, two more albums were released – Declaration Of War (2011) and Trial By Fire (2013) – and of course this new one was released on June 2nd. So, the first Mean Streak song I have ever heard is the opening track here, “Blood Red Sky”. It’s a melodic hard rocker, clearly influenced by the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) that was popular in the early 80’s. It comes in a faster paced, a steady beat and a good enough chorus. I’m not gonna say that the tune floored me, but it is a really good song – a song that leaves me wanting more of what’s to come.
“Animal In Me” comes along as a steady, heavy, melodic hard rocker with a metal vibe. The beat hits hard and the chorus is very memorable and sticks right away – very good. The galloping rhythm of “Retaliation Call” brings on an Iron Maiden twist but for an old bugger like me, I also think of when FWOSHM’s (First Wave Of Swedish Heavy Metal) seeds were sawn in the 80’s. Most of those bands didn’t really deliver quality wise, but this song does – without being all that extraordinary. A good song, no more no less. “Settle The Score” is mid-tempoed, heavy but very memorable – the chorus could be used as glue with all its catchiness. There’s also a slow, almost taciturn middle break that brings up the dynamics and makes for some variation. “Tear Down The Walls” is a standard metal stomper, a good song but the music is as middle-of-the-road as the title, so it will get an OK from me at best. Haven’t that title been used enough by now?
“Tears Of The Blind”, on the other hand, is a big friggin’ hit in my book. It’s mid-paced, groovy with a main melody that creates a pop/AOR vibe over the hard rock arrangements. The chorus is brilliant and this is a tune I want to hear over and over again! “Love Is A Killer” is faster and rougher – a metal injected hard rocker with lots of intensity and power. However, it feels like I have heard this song so many times before and along the way, I lose my grip of the song and my thoughts runs elsewhere. It’s not bad, though. “Come Undone” is slower in tempo, very heavy but at the same time it’s very melodic and the pop vibes brings shitloads of catchiness to it. It’s still very metal, though. Great tune! “Fire At Will” starts out with a groove that reminds me of the debut album from Europe but it soon turns into a more metal direction and the solo part is reminiscent of the Keeper Of The Seven Keys era Helloween. A lot of contrast, which is a good thing, but the tune itself is only ok.
“Caught In The Crossfire” is a groove laden hard rock tune in mid pace but with a striking melody that crosses over to a striking chorus that brings a big chunk of hit feel to the tune – great stuff! Last track “Gunnerside” is a fast paced hard rock / heavy metal blaster with a tiny chunk of sleaze rock and a power metal twist as well. The chorus has me thinking of Avantasia which is the part that saves an otherwise mediocre song. A stronger song as a closer would have been preferred.
If you can live with the fact that Mean Streak plays traditional hard rock / metal that really doesn’t bring anything new to the table at all, then you have enough goodies here to last a good while. I usually don’t have a problem with unoriginal music and I don’t care as long as the songs speaks to me and are catchy enough. But music can never be bland or mediocre or badly performed, that’s when I bring out the chainsaw, original and / or innovating or not. Mean Streak are a band of good musicians that has a lot of love for this kind of music and they know how to write a good, catchy tune with both heaviness and finesse, so the fact that they are totally unoriginal doesn’t bother me squat. Besides, they have their identity which sure counts for a lot. The album isn’t without fillers, but it is without bad songs so add a bunch of great hard rockers and you have a fine hour in front of you here. It is sure worth checking out!
1. Blood Red Sky
2. Animal In Me
3. Retaliation Call
4. Settle The Score
5. Tear Down The Walls
6. Tears Of The Blind
7. Love Is A Killer
8. Come Undone
9. Fire At Will
10. Caught In The Crossfire