Arriving like a muscle car flipping end-over-end through a liquor store, Mean Mistreater from Austin, TX, is a glorious collision of New Wave of British Heavy Metal-meets-Hollywood sleaze rock. Think Angel Witch riding shotgun with W.A.S.P. and you’re close enough to smell the leather and sweat.
Drawing blood with an eight-track debut titled “Razor Wire,” Mean Mistreater is that feral breed of band that enters the alley ready to take its lumps and bruises knowing the other guy will be worse for wear.
Opening with the stomping guitar crunch of “Forget It,” the album introduces vocalist Janiece Gonzalez as a tough-as-nails belter whose gritty throat issues as much warning as it does a call to arms. Shut up, listen up or get knocked down, baby! The joyous hell ride is off to the races!
Throughout the album, guitarists Alex Wein and Quinten Lawson slice and grind like early Mick Mars playing “Swords & Tequila” by Riot. The solos rip and spiral enough to impress without noodling themselves off a cliff, and bassist Jon Gibson and drummer Joaquin Ridgell bring extra hammers and boots (on full display in “Visions”).
On an album full of jawbreakers, “Bleeding the Night” is the brass-knuckle knockout. Immediately pouncing from the speakers, the guitars chug like the Satanic sisters of Heart’s “Barracuda” before Gonzalez lures you in and bites your head off with her snapping, elastic vocal.
While there’s no doubt Mean Mistreater’s big guns are the throttling attack of power, punch and kick (“Waiting to Die,” “Let ‘Em Roll,” “Razor Wire”), there are moments of haunted nuance as echoes of Thin Lizzy color “One By One” and a near-power ballad gallop closes the album with “Bedevil.”
With “Razor Wire,” Mean Mistreater delivers a rowdy, old-school party soundtrack that reeks of attitude, muscle and grease more than glitz and glam. This is beat-down music of the very best kind and, man, does it hurt so good!