It seems that Scotland's MENDEED have been making quite a buzz with their melody-laced Swedish-inflected thrash and semi-metalcore. As I have not heard 2006's "The War Will Last Forever", I cannot determine whether the hype is justified, based on that album alone. Instead, the focus will be on the soon to be released "The Dead Live By Love". One would think that an album that rips so ferociously with thrashing riffs, dual guitar harmonies, tight delivery, and generally relentless pace would make any lover of metal dance with glee. And yet, every time the quintet launches into one of its clean vocal sections, typically on the chorus, it is all I can do to keep myself from ripping it out of the CD player.
"Perhaps it was a case of first-listen syndrome and additional spins will bring me around", I thought to myself. Additional spins did not bring me around. I'm a fan of strong melodies and clean singing when done right and in a way that makes for a memorable listening experience. But as hard as they try on "The Dead Live by Love" MENDEED fails to capture my attention with their stabs at big hooks. These tunes just aren't that catchy. Instead, the feeling I get is one of generic metal for the masses, done by the likes of AVENGED SEVENFOLD. That's a damn shame because musically, "The Dead Live by Love" is a ripping and spirited batch of up-tempo slammers and riff-heavy bangers that at times brings to mind the six-string ferocity of CHILDREN OF BODOM (especially the vocals) and IN FLAMES. The solos burn hot and the twin leads are also very well done.
But damn, the generic "cleans" and soaring choruses leave me cold. It is the same kind of feeling I get when TRIVIUM pulls off the same kind of vintage-metal-to-mall-metal switch. In the end, all it means is the kiddies will trip over themselves to add "The Dead Live by Love" to their ever-growing collections. But isn't it unfair to damn an album for one near fatal flaw? If you call the barely-above-average score of 5.5 unfair, then yes it is. That's life.