Editor's Rating

Have a listen to: "Speed Queen" and "Two Good Fists and a Death Wish"

8
Rating out of 10

Meansteed – Two Good Fists and a Death Wish

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Right, let’s get this out of the way early. I have had the good fortune to catch Meansteed live a couple of times and each time I have enjoyed it immensely. However, they were always extremely similar (almost a tribute) to a certain bunch of Australian hard rockers that some of you will doubtlessly be familiar with called Airbourne. So when this album came across my desk I strapped myself in ready for a familiar homage to the O’Keeffe brothers.

I was very, very wrong. These guys (and girl) are certainly no longer a pale imitation of another band, they are creating their own niche and sitting in it very comfortably.

Now don’t be fooled, their influences are still very clear throughout the album; nods to AC/DC, Motorhead and Airbourne are prevalent throughout the entire album. It’s just that ‘Two Good Fists and a Death Wish‘ is the first step on a journey for Meansteed to becoming their own band and creating their own sound. And what a step it is.

Intro track ‘Rolling Thunder‘ has a Bon Jovi-esque feel to it, beginning with twangy acoustic guitar and smooth lead. It then bursts into a pounding, rhythmic verse accompanied by harsh vocals. The track maintains pace and keeps your head nodding and foot tapping all the way through. A good solid start, albeit a little predictable.

Every rock and roll band sings about sex, drugs and fighting right? Have you ever heard one sing about the Large Hadron Collider? Na, me neither. Not until I heard track two, ‘Halo of Truth‘ anyway. It’s not a bad track but nothing particularly special, however I definitely think it’s worth an honourable mention purely due to the obscure subject matter.

Hit and Run‘ is my next stand out track on the album. The guitar partnership along with the tight rhythm of the bass and drums creates a great midway point of the album and maintains the pace that has already been set. A high point is the wah-drenched guitar solo that truly appeals to me as a major Guns ‘n’ Roses fanboy, I’m sure the big man in the top hat and shades would approve too.

This track subsides to make way for the track that lends its name to the album. It’s full of catchy vocals and some great guitar work, making nice use of natural harmonics to create a real atmosphere around it. Sometimes less really is more and this track proves it by stretching out notes over the middle bridge, building tension and unleashing it with the chorus finale.

Fan favourite and Meansteed staple ‘Engage the Rage‘ makes an appearance too, but I really wish it didn’t. It’s a fun song and it’s great to hear it recorded in such high quality, but it’s a relic, a part of the bands previous sound and purely serves to remind us of their roots. Because unfortunately, however you look at it, this track is essentially Airbourne’s ‘Stand and Deliver. In my opinion the band would do well to wean themselves off this track and instead focus on the direction they are heading in as they were doing so in the previous parts of the album.

Moving forward, I really enjoy the pace and energy in ‘Speed Queen. The riffs are awesome, the vocals sound fantastic and it features some of the best lead guitar work on the album without sounding overly technical. It’s simply a lot of fun to listen to and sounds like something a much more experienced band would put together. Probably my favourite song on the album.

Ride On brings the album to a close in typical style. No surprises here, just a great, loud hard rock song with singalong vocals and a nice, strong finish to this extremely polished effort by Meansteed.

If it’s not already clear, I thoroughly enjoyed this album, almost without interruption. The songs were well written, the pacing of the tracks was great and the guitar work is on par with some of the top bands around at the moment. One thing that I had to keep reminding myself throughout ‘Two Good Fists and a Death Wish‘ is that this was not a major label release. This isn’t an album put together by a record company that has a great deal of resources to funnel into the band, this is the result of a hard working bunch of musicians working independently to produce something they can be proud of. And proud they should be. I feel like if people are going around saying ridiculous things like “rock is dead” (looking at you Gene Simmons) then Meansteed would simply walk up, kick them in the nuts and spit beer in their face, and rightfully so.

To summarise, if you want originality then look elsewhere. This band isn’t here to reinvent the wheel. They are simply here to write some sweet hard rock songs, drink beer and have a damn good time playing live. I recommend that you join them.

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