Wednesday 25 October 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Savage Messiah - "Hands Of Fate"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 27/10/2017
Label: Century Media Records

The record is a solid, well written, well produced and expertly played slice of modern heavy metal. The hooks and melodies are there and they are very good, but adrenaline is not a key ingredient any more.

“Hands of Fate” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Hands Of Fate
2. Wing And A Prayer
3. Blood Red Road
4. Lay Down Your Arms
5. Solar Corona
6. Eat Your Heart Out
7. Fearless
8. The Last Confession
9. The Crucible
10. Out Of Time

The Review:

Savage Messiah are one of the UK's premier melodic thrash/heavy metal acts and have done considerable business both at home and abroad over the course of their first three albums. From their thrashing debut “Insurrection Rising” to the slightly difficult second album “Plague of Conscience” and then on to the melodic majesty of “The Fateful Dark”, this fourth album comes with considerable expectations attached and is wrapped up in an altogether more “serious” package of artwork and sounds.

Once again, the band has stepped up onto a larger label, once again the ideas are forward thinking and once again the production is very good. The title track is up first and is best described as a mixture of mid period/ latter day Judas Priest and Metallica at their more melodic. As the record progresses, it is clear that the band are now much more firmly in the “heavy metal bracket” and much less in the more underground thrash genre. That is not to say that the album is not heavy- it is; the likes of “Wing and a Prayer” has chugging verse sections, lots of leads but all topped with a slick vocal production and some very catchy soaring choruses.

There are faster tracks here, but no outright barn burners; “Blood Red Road” shows the band can still put the pedal to the metal and also demonstrates that Savage Messiah now inhabit a similar genre to the excellent Absolva- British Heavy Metal as a composite of classic sounds and bands with a very modern twist. The band have gone for the solid ten track album format and as the tracks go by, there is a cohesive feel- even from mid paced stompers like “Lay Down Your Arms” to the speedier melodies “Solar Corona” to the anthemic and pacey “Eat Your Heart Out”- which almost sounds like a classic Def Leppard track until the first riff kicks in.

Make no mistake, this is slick stuff and offers up a kind of composite which bridges NWOBHM sounds and enthusiasm with Priest at their arena conquering height whilst also taking in more modern production techniques and sounds. “Fearless” is almost hard rock- the vocal and chorus could be straight off … well, something a lot more commercial than I would expect. The solo section makes up for this somewhat saccharine turn, though.

There is nothing over five minutes on this album, which is quite telling in regards to where the band are aiming for and where they are heading. The quasi-ballad “Last Confession” drops the tempo but does not extend the playing time, opting instead for an anthemic chorus and a quiet/loud dynamic. The final two tracks of the album appealed to me a lot more- “The Crucible” is one of the heavier tracks on the album with a solid riff and commercial leanings kept to a minimum, while “Out of Time” provides a darkly atmospheric finish to this  intriguing record.

Overall, then we can conclude: Savage Messiah are a thrash band no longer and that style has not been pursued here. The band are making a play for commercial appeal by dialling down the metal imagery and more spiky elements of their sound. The record is a solid, well written, well produced and expertly played slice of modern heavy metal. The hooks and melodies are there and they are very good, but adrenaline is not a key ingredient any more. Having seen the band at Damnation Festival in 2015 (I think) I was converted into a fan over the course of their short set. You would be hard pressed to find many bands doing this style better. If melodic heavy metal is your bag, then definitely check this out- if thrash madness is what you are after, then Kreator, Overkill, Sodom and others have more of what you need.

“Hand of Fate” is available here

Band info: facebook