It definitely required a double take to confirm that this was actually the solo/side project of Mitch Harris, esteemed guitarist of Napalm Death, given its relatively far removed from his day job. But then again that should be what these things are about, freedom of personal expression to explore and/or express musical tastes without expected boundaries of convention or expectation, even if those conventions are definitely not musically conservative in the first place!
“The band is called MENACE, but to me, it is more than just a band or a solo project”, comments the musician. “It is the result of my life’s work. MENACE bring unrealised dreams closer to fruition”, he adds. “It is about overcoming loss and hardship, and a combination of my many interests.””
So from the off we are immersed in a wildly eclectic, psychedelic, space metal experience that flies along with precision but also atmosphere. Yes, there is still the core of sharp and skilled riffing, occasionally edging into the familiar fast, but more often wider ranging technical exercises, more akin to the progressive modern metal of Devin Townsend or Voivod. Another check to see that Mick is also providing the vocals for this project as the clarity and strength is also a surprise (compared to his usual backing shrieks with Napalm) and at times even has an accessible quality that reminds of Alice in Chains or even latter day Ozzy.
This allows some appreciation of the lyrical content too, well, maybe to add to the dizzying mix as there’s a lot of psycho-spiritual musings. Ably backed by an all-star band too (that includes the likes of Derek Roddy and Shane Embury) the sum total of the detail and depth that’s been put into this almost demands further listening to pick up bits that were missed the first time around. Inevitably with such a diverse sound some songs/sections will appeal more than others but ultimately it is a pretty intriguing and surprising release.