Meliah Rage is a Boston-based metal band founded in 1987. The band is known for their “classic” metal sound and has maintained a loyal international following for over two decades. The band’s most recent CD, entitled Masquerade, is full of interesting melodic movement that is woven into the powerful framework that metal audiences have come to expect from Meliah Rage. The original singer is back after a hiatus, and Mike Munro attacks each song with the right combination of growl and musicality that also helps differentiate this band.
I am not a metal head or any sort of authority on the genre, but Meliah Rage founder Anthony Nichols asked me to drop a few very small keyboard parts onto Masquerade, as I had done many years ago on a track called Deliver Me from the Solitary Solitude disc. Now months after the CD’s release, I asked Nichols to spend a few quality moments in my Caprice, describing how the disc sounded to him in this environment and reliving some of the creative process.
We started listening at the beginning of the record: “I liked the feel of the intro, it is a riff based on a major chord, which teases listeners a bit because the opening song (Lost or Found) is in a minor key. It’s just a twist, one of many on the CD and I like setting up the unexpected,” Nichols stated. The audio system in the car impressed us both as we navigated track one—the double kick drum is brutal on any woofer system however Nichols said the clarity and detail was dead on. “Almost too much at times, I could hear so much detail,” he added.
When we arrived at track three (History Will Tell), Nichols shared that he considers this song to represent the definitive Meliah Rage sound. Multi-tracked “bone dry” guitars, precise arrangements. “When I wrote this song, I had envisioned a completely different lead vocal—Munro did an amazing job of interpreting the song structure, his combination of anger and smart melodic sensibility give the track life.” Nichols also added that middle section (without vocal) started out as a bed for a lead track; however Nichols liked the rhythm guitar harmonies so much, he left it alone.
Nichols listened intently to the CD, moving his head around inside the car to check placement of instruments and staging in the Caprice. I also showed him my remote subwoofer level control, enabling me to dial in the low bass level to accommodate each recording. For me, a good car audio system cannot exist without a sub level control—bass content varies so much from disc to disc.
Nichols jumped at the start of Hour Glass, track six—“I love the clean sound that producer Rich Spillberg (Wargasm) dialed in here.” The song opens with clean guitars, high-hat, and bass guitar before ripping into a relentless metal groove. Nichols pointed out a guitar melody after the first chorus, bridging into the second verse—“that was (lead guitarist) Jim Koury’s idea, it works great there.” The band shot a video for Hour Glass.
Track nine (Whatever it Takes) features a “whoosh” in the opening seconds—Nichols pointed out that this was actually the sound from his wah pedal and Spillberg had identified the “noise” as a positive and dressed it up a bit for use as the song unfolds. More commentary from Nichols here: “The intro to Whatever it Takes is in D-minor—and as the intro fades out and the song fades in, we are suddenly in E—this is one of my favorite tweaks…I like to fade out in one key and emerge again in another. Unpredictability, keeps it interesting.” The oddly timed chorus in track 9 is another highlight for Nichols…and then another comment on his guitar sounds: “We get that big metal sound by panning rhythm guitar tracks right and left—it gives you that BIG thick sound.”
This Meliah Rage CD is full of complex chord voicings, ear-bending inversions and carefully constructed songs. Nichols talked about the long road to writing, arranging and recording such a record. It is also noteworthy that this is the band’s first digitally recorded and edited effort—and although Nichols has mixed feelings about the process, he acknowledges that computer-based recording is faster and more budget friendly. One thing for certain, Masquerade does not sound contrived or hurried—it is a punishing and powerful Meliah Rage disc from start to finish. I am giving the Caprice tomorrow off…