When Gary Meskil shouts – you listen. An intense presence on stage and on record, the former Crumbsucker and all-round top bloke, unleashed “Foul Taste Of Freedom” on the world as far back as 1992; and what a glorious gut-punch it was. With all the NY bounciness you’d want, layered with fat grooves and a good dose of barked rage, I had them pegged for the big time. It was such a seminal album for me as a young lad and more gems followed that always seemed worthy of international recognition but never saw them dent the upper echelons of heavy music. Numerous line-up changes over the years and a slight lack of consistency in recent albums caused me to doubt the possibility of another classic album from Pro-Pain but the latest bucket of thump, “The Final Revolution,” sees Gary go back to basics with the entire shebang written by him and produced with a sharp edge and a real attention to detail.
Opener ‘Deathwish’ is such a welcome return to form it feels like slipping on your favourite pair of trainers and an ancient t-shirt and being thrilled how well they still fit. ‘One Shot, One Kill’ struts with the menace of old and a hint of Prong seeps through here and there. There’s very little variation or experimentation – just blunt force trauma and unapologetic riffing. ‘Southbound’ raises the bar even higher, giving it the full hardcore manners, and sits comfortably alongside the band’s finest compositions from the last two decades.
Things continue apace until ‘All Systems Fail’ which kicks into gear with a hint of Megadeth but soon settles back into that trademark aggro beat. Adam Phillips has been with the band for a fair few years now and carefully adds some colour to the songs with flashy lead guitar work that never strays into fret-wank territory but elevates this above standard hardcore metal call and response shoutathons.
What really impresses with Meskil‘s writing, as ever, is that on first listen it is catchy, immediate and fist-pumping yet on repeated listens it doesn’t become stale or lose its impact. A neat sonic assault that sucks you in from the get-go, but continues to grow and breathe. Trying to review other albums has been tricky this week because every time I play anything heavy I hear Pro-Pain riffs playing back in my head and wish they were playing live in the UK so I could get to the barrier and act like an excitable teen again.
In the end the only solution is to put “The Final Revolution” back on – and then play some of their older stuff too (whilst making appropriate hand gestures, like they used to in all the NYHC videos back in the day). Having worried that one of my favourite bands was running out of steam I am thrilled to be proved completely wrong and I sincerely hope this isn’t their very final revolution.