The year might’ve started out a bit slowly but recently a slew of bands (MEGADETH, LORD BELIAL, VOLBEAT) pleasantly surprised me with their new albums. Now I can add MELDRUM’s “Blowin’ Up The Machine” to that list. It might not be an absolute barn-burner but this is a solid album from a band relatively unknown to me.
A few things worth noting: this is the band formed by Michelle Meldrum who played guitar in the great PHANTOM BLUE. After said band split up the rest of the metal vixens formed the MIADEN tribute band (THE IRON MAIDENS, duh!) while Michelle went off, married EUROPE’s John Norum, and formed MELDRUM together with some other Swedish gals to back her up. As a bonus this album also features guest appearances by two legends: Gene Hoglan (who also played drums in Michelle Meldrum’s 80s Thrash band WARGOD) and the indomitable Lemmy Kilminster. Another curious thing is that this album was released by Frontiers Records, a label known for putting out some notoriously fluffy AOR bands… So with all this in mind how does the actual music stack up?
If I could name two main references it would be SKID ROW (in their “Subhuman Race” era) and Zakk Wylde’s BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. Thus anyone into groovy yet melodic Hard Rock should find MELDRUM to their liking. For the most part the songs follow the abovementioned description but they also thrown in some Thrash and BLACK SABBATH influences on “Purge” and “Crème De La Creme” respectively. At points some nu-Metal waywardness even becomes evident (see “Scars”). The guitar work is solid and Michelle’s soloing is tasteful. Lemmy sings duet on “Miss Me When I’m Gone” (I’m sure we will Lemmy, don’t you worry…), but the overall track is a bit weak. The same could also go for the other ballad-type songs on here – they just lack the energy and urgency present on songs such as the opener. Of course Hoglan’s drumming is solid but why he was even included on here is a mystery to me: firstly, he only playes drums on a few songs, and secondly, the production muffles his contribution a bit. I mean I love Gene Hoglan but I feel his presence on here is a bit pointless…
So there you have it. Most songs are great for drinking a beer to and moshing a bit (after all, this band is infinitely heavier than all the other acts on Frontiers Records combined) but as a whole the album suffers a bit from the “could’ve been more”-syndrome. But I must say it’s great to hear Michelle again since the last music I heard of her was PHANTOM BLUE’s self-titled album from about 200 years ago.
It’s solid, nothing more and nothing less, and proves that girls (well I guess they’re women now) can ROCK.
(Online July 19, 2007)