by Steve Patrick
– Columnist –
Anyone familiar with the band Meldrum is most likely also aware of the untimely demise of the band’s namesake and founder, guitarist Michelle Meldrum. The driving force of the band unexpectedly past away from a cystic growth that restricted blood flow to her brain in 2008.
At that tragic point, Michelle had been working closely with legendary drummer, band mate and longtime friend Gene Hoglan (Strapping Young Lad), on Meldrum’s highly anticipated third full length album Lifer. The songs were all written and ready for final cuts, but, due to the unexpected circumstances, Michelle’s guitar tracks were never actually laid down for Lifer.
The surviving members of Meldrum (Hoglan, Laura Christine, and Michelle Madden) decided to soldier on and complete the unfinished album in tribute to their fallen comrade. Lifer has had a long and difficult birth, but the album will finally be released in the fall of 2012 on Reversed Records. Laura Christine faithfully performs Michelle’s guitar parts on this album based presumably on preserved demos.
It is important to note that Lifer is the first Meldrum album to feature Christine and Madden. Michelle Meldrum had an impressive talent of finding some truly unique female metal singers. A previous incarnation of Meldrum featured leather-clad, big-chested, pirate banshee Moa Holmsten on vocals and released two albums with her at the mic.
Holmsten’s replacement is Australian vocalist Michelle Madden who exhibits an impressive range between clean vocals and growls. Madden is not only a solid replacement for Holmsten, but her performance elevates the band’s music to a place that it had never been prior.
Christine’s performance on bass, rhythm and lead guitars is definitely commendable. Michelle Meldrum was known for monster riffs in all her projects and thankfully Christine’s skills on the fretboard were able to deliver the monster riffs on tracks like “Blackened Blue” or “Walking Point.” Wherever Michelle Meldrum is, she’s pleased with Christine’s guitar efforts on Lifer.
There are very few weak moments on the album. The lyrics of “Money Shot” are just absurd. Whoever thought it was a good idea to rhyme “Hemi” with “Lemmy” could have benefited from some constructive editing advice. Also, while this is a metal album, it is also advertised as a tribute to the life of Michelle Meldrum so I thought the decision to open the album with Madden spelling the word “cunt” was a less than somber choice.
Hoglan’s drumming is impeccable and lives up to his “Atomic Clock” status. Most of all, Hoglan’s tireless pursuit to get this album released is the real success story here. Lifer’s 2012 release has been over four years in the making and Hoglan has been flying the flag for the band and album ever since Michelle’s passing. Also, fans of Meldrum will be benefiting a good cause when purchasing Lifer. Partial proceeds from the album will go to benefit Michelle Meldrum’s young son Jake Thomas. So despite some silly moments, Lifer is a fitting tribute to a talented musician who was taken too soon and is worth checking out. You get a great album and will help someone in need which is the definition of a win/win situation.
Genre: Heavy Metal
Michelle Madden – Vocals
Laura Christine – Guitars/bass
Gene Hoglan – Drums
1. A Toast to Romance
2. Blackened Blue
4. Money Shot
5. ‘68 Blonde
6. Walking Point
Label: Reversed Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10