Meshiaak - Official Website

Mask Of All Misery

Australia Country of Origin: Australia

Mask Of All Misery
Send eMail
Type: Full-Length
Release Date: November 15th, 2019
Genre: Progressive, Thrash
1. Miasma
2. Mask Of All Misery
3. Bury The Bodies
4. City Of Ghosts
5. Face Of Stone
6. Tears That Burn The Son
7. Doves
8. In The Final Hour
9. Adrena
10. Godless

Review by Greg on January 20, 2024.

Australia's very own 4Arm has been soldiering on for a couple decades, despite huge changes that turned the whole lineup upside-down (not a pun, I swear), but I sometimes wonder where they could have headed, had they kept the Submission for Liberty formation. Maybe the closest answer I can get at the moment is Meshiaak, the band formed by ex-frontman Dan Camilleri (aka Danny Tomb). If that album taught me anything, I should have expected from them modern thrash/groove with skilled, yet melodic solos and a dead ringer for James Hetfield at the mic.

Meshiaak's sophomore album Mask of All Misery is... very different from these premises. Debut Alliance of Thieves could have been identified by these qualities, while here the band, for some reason, makes a u-turn towards easier listening territories. I don't know if the momentary exit of Jon Dette had something to do with it, but thrash is basically absent from the equation here. Now, I'd argue that it wasn't exactly the main component in 4Arm's music either, but I'd still measure this album's groove against masterpieces such as 'While I Lie Awake' or 'Blood of Martyrs', so it really needs to do its best. One thing right out of the gate is that, well, Camilleri really shows all his weapons, ranging from ferocious, if sometimes strained, shouts to always competent clean vocals (unfortunately a bit lower in the mix). Okay, he might sometimes sound like Robb Flynn if you're paying attention. I'm not taking back anything I said, regardless. I quite like hearing the man in an album, that's what I'm trying to say. Alongside him isn't Johnny Glovasa anymore, but Pyramaze's Dean Wells, so there's still a fair number of awesome solos, sometimes with a certain prog edge that might have been inherited from his main band.

Unfortunately, as much as I can be lenient towards hearing a bit of metalcore here and there, I can't overlook how most of this album just feels... safe. Simply memorable refrains are there (I think of 'Face of Stone', probably the all-around best, 'Bury the Bodies', or the half-ballad 'Doves') and will probably stay in my head for long, and so are some solos like in the title-track, which is also the closest to 4Arm's blend of groove and thrash metal we get – but I can understand if somebody were to give this a lower rating, so to speak. The aforementioned refrains might be seen as too poppy, or the foundation as too simplistic. I won't complain if I were to listen to, say, 'In the Final Hour' again, since it's a straightforward, yet effective song, but its main chuggy riff is kinda hard to stomach in the long run. I can say I overall liked the choice cuts, but I'll rarely return to the whole album, not least because of the overblown, almost alt-metal closer 'Godless'.

Mask of All Misery had potential, in my book, but it might have strayed a bit too far from what it does best. I'm especially curious to see where the band will go from here on. Almost four years later, a possible new album was seemingly in the works with Dette returning and ex-Machine Head (duh) Logan Mader joining, yet there's been only silence for a long time now. I'll stop by, with caution, but will nonetheless.

Rating: 6.8 out of 10