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Feel the hand of doom. - 90%

Diamhea, February 4th, 2018

While Boston's Meliah Rage segued into thrashier territory with the admittedly-spectacular Solitary Solitude, their finest moment has to be the debut Kill to Survive. This record is a stone-cold heavy metal classic, fusing classic-sounding riffs with incendiary thrash intensity, epic vocals and an acrobatic, multifarious grasp of the disparate elements that contribute to the overall sound. I would say that Kill to Survive feels a lot like Metal Church, but there is some Metallica sprinkled in there as well amid an ephemeral smattering of Flotsam and Jetsam's eccentricities. A very compact listen at only seven tracks including the lengthy instrumental eponymous cut, there is no reason not to give this on a whirl. So let's see what we have here.

Three all-time classics for sure, those being the stage-setting riff powerhouse "Beginning of the End," the more classic-sounding gruffness of "Enter the Darkness" and my favourite: the swirling, thrashing madness of the spectacular "Impaling Doom," which shuffles through snappy, direct riffs while Mike Munro's threatening howl commands instant moshing: "Feel the blade tear through..... you!" Deviations from this norm do exist, like the slower, lyrically atypical "Bates Motel," whose conceptual influence is clear as day, and the instrumental "Meliah Rage," which does get quite fucking heavy in spots despite feeling a bit redundant on the whole. I would have rather liked to see these riffs in proper confines - it falls prey to the common instrumental pitfall of sounding like a dumping ground for riffs that wouldn't or couldn't fit elsewhere.

Regardless, it's just a fucking cool style, with song structure that feels influenced more by traditional heavy metal than thrash, although the riffs have that spastic edge to them that spices up the already competent cultivation of atmosphere. Munro certainly doesn't wax philosophical or anything - Meliah Rage don't have much of a message outside of banging the head that doesn't fucking bang. Absolutely nothing on this record even comes close to sucking, and the late '80s production really gives the grafted-together genre fusion a stable sonic footing. This is one of the better guitar sounds I have ever heard, tailor-made for the more trad riffs but loose enough to open up during the thrashing.

Kill to Survive shouldn't be missed, being one of the most consistent, compact and virulent records in my collection. It never fails to put a smile on my face and can easily be spun front to back without the need to exercise the skip button. The band throws a few curve balls, inter alia the analog of heavy/thrash hallmarks and spunky, thrown-together quality of the riffing construction, and no quarter is ever taken. A forgotten classic, without a doubt.