Judged by today's standards, the second album by Dutch trio Gore sounds like a rehearsal tape for a pretty cool metal band, or perhaps a rough mix of a Shellac album before the vocals were added. But let us not forget that Mean Man's Dream was originally released in 1987. That was the same year that instrumental innovators Slint and Bastro formed; Don Caballero's first album For Respect, which in retrospect sounds like a Gore homage, didn't come out until 1993. The sound of Mean Man's Dream -- damaging, percussive, throttled -- would be duplicated for nearly every album that Steve Albini produced for smaller labels.
Each song retains a similar riff 'n repeat structure. No solos, no dramatic drum fills, a few stretches of guitar feedback but otherwise every bass drop and cymbal crash serves the meaty, midrange riff at hand. And where some might hear boredom in Gore's fairly simple riff style, I hear purity. What would a heavy metal band be without a strong foundation of propulsive, convulsive rhythm, something that Gore's got up the bum to the exclusion of all else? Maybe "Loaded" would sound even better with Henry Rollins howling over it (Gore released a split with Rollins Band just before Mean Man's Dream), but it rocks plenty hard without a frontman. In Gore, we have the true definition of "power trio." Three musicians. Nothin' but power.