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Pure Steel (2014)
Rating: 5.5/10

The Megs is a rather peculiarly named hard rock band from Italy. Awakening is the quartet’s third release, following on from 2011’s Jealousy and 2013’s Start EP. The Megs are fronted by vocalist / bassist Federico Travaglia, who is joined by guitarists David Visin and Mattia Aldibeck, and drummer Manuel Mormina.

The press release for Awakening mentions that the band “does not sound like many others”, but that if they had to be compared to any band, then it would be Danish rockers D.A.D. I can’t personally fathom the comparison to be honest, but I do agree that The Megs aren’t your routine hard rock band; as soon as ‘What I Would Like’ begins with its sweeping orchestration and then jabbing guitar, I’m at a loss to explain who they sound like.

It’s not because The Megs are so befuddling or unusual that a comparison fails to come to mind. It’s just that with the trundling bass and Travaglia’s distinctly European slur plus a pop edge, this probably has more in common with the judder of Queens Of The Stone Age musically – either way, it’s straight up rock ’n’ roll but just played from a different angle.

The songs are catchy – I refer back to that upbeat opener – but although ‘Follow The White Rabbit’ has a stirring opening guitar and strong drum plod, it’s nothing mind-blowing. The Megs are an energetic rock band bereft of thrills to be honest, but they certainly give it their best shot and harbour a commercial edge that should gain the band a new set of fans quickly.

‘Follow The White Rabbit’ is a touch more “indie” than heavy rock, ‘Rain Of Sand’ is a cheerful, jangly bubblegum pop number, and ‘My Time’ is equally danceable material – the sort of track one could imagine hearing in “indie” clubs across Britain. In fact, I’m unsure if the band really classes itself as metal. The label Pure Steel is certainly misleading with its moniker, because as is proven with the whispered trudge of ‘Apache’ or the fiery ‘Ink Flower’, this is more of a rock album than a metal album.

There are a few sturdier numbers, however; ‘Blackout’ is an all-out rocker with a ballsy drum kick and infectious solo, while ‘Govern Is To Believe’ is another high-octane foot tapper. Oddly though, the more I listen to this the more British it sounds in its framework; if it wasn’t for Travaglia’s vocals, I’d have thought that this slab had been released at some point in the UK in the late 90s.

Sadly, Awakening doesn’t boast enough big songs to succeed as a hard rock album. Instead, it’s all rather bland from start to finish, despite the clear passion of the group.

Neil Arnold

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