Hands of Fate by Savage MessiahRelease date: October 27, 2017
Label: Century Media Records
When this reviewer started listening to rock and metal many decades ago it was simply glam rock, progressive rock, heavy rock or indeed heavy metal. It was this time when the influential new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) was happening and the label was coined by the then essential weekly music paper Sounds. And further down the road began the, and still ongoing, avalanche of numerous sub-genres explosion.
Why should I mention this for the review of the new third album by current London based (adopt uncle metal Rob Halford’s deep muscular tones) British heavy metal band, Savage Messiah, is because they have moved on from the thrash outpourings of their debut and have delivered a pure and unadulterated old school heavy metal record with a big modern day production.
This upfront, punchy production hits immediately, again supplied by the band’s favourite producer Scott Atkins. This is an album full of song orientated heavy metal, so we are talking big meaty metal riffs, huge choruses, fine twin guitars and solos soar loudly out of the speakers. We are talking latter day post thrash Metallica, Accept, Judas Priest, a touch of Iron Maiden, and a big head nod to the John Bush led Armoured Saint.
The above influences are put into good effect with many fine guitar licks fitting alongside good crunchy riffage as on ‘Blood Red Rose’, ‘Lay Down Your Arms’, ‘Solar Corona’, ‘The Crucible’, and ‘Fearless’. And they are all supplemented with big singalong choruses. Although, they do sink to a Def Leppard styled chorus on ‘Eat Your Heart Out’ whereby the vocal intro is straight out of the Joe Elliot’s and co is it pop? is it rock? song book. But, fortunately, is saved by their sincere, pure, love of heavy metal at the centre of their hearts.
There is a compactness and focus throughout the album. And the old-school tradition of having a vocalist in Dave Silver who is not afraid to sing is a refreshing change from some sub-genres where enormous, what the fuck, riffs can be spoiled by a lack of vocalists who, as fellow Echoes and Dust colleague Chris Ball would say, sound like their trying to sing while vomiting with cotton wool in their mouths.
Hands of Fate is no doubt aiming to reach to a far wider metal audience. And, Savage Messiah have indeed raised their game in their song writing department which, while that is admirable, the polished sheen occasionally covers up in places where a bit more grit could have raised the roof even higher. And while the songs are immediately hook-inners the album, overall, fails for this reviewer to raise the horns enthusiastically.
Why exactly, I’m finding hard to comprehend and it has left me rather flummoxed. Maybe it’s the vocals, while very good, may lack standout character although that sounds harsh and probably not the reason. Or it could be Metallica’s Black album influence which this old skool thrasher has always had a complicated relationship with (nailed it).
Despite this, it is a very accomplished album, with some big moments and is Savage Messiah’s best album to date. It is indeed classic sounding but the production values gives’ it an unmistakable contemporary quality. But time will tell if they can barge their way through the overcrowded extreme pushing sub-genres or establish a place among the aforementioned old guard elite. For fans of the aforementioned influences give them a hearing, you may find a new band to love. Despite my self-baffled disparages, I do wish them well and I hope they succeed.