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Savage Messiah — Demons Award winner

Savage Messiah
Demons
by Max Elias at 05 May 2019, 4:56 PM

SAVAGE MESSIAH might not have been around that long, but they are definitely prolific. They’ve been slinging their brand of melodic thrash since 2007 with albums coming every few years since 2009. This latest offering continues their showstopping formula; unlike a lot of ‘melodic’ thrash, the vocals still have bite to them and are not overly sparkly-clean, and the holy grail of thrash (the riff) is very much intact, making them distinct among their chosen niche. The first track ‘Virtue Signal’ opens with driving pedal-tone attack and stomps along all the way through, with vocalist David Silver’s tormented wail contrasting beautifully. Simple but clear guitar melodies permeate the song, recalling something between Iron Maiden and Megadeth. ‘Heretic in the Modern World’ is another straight-out-the-gate ripper of a song, with a main riff that is as memorable as it is ferocious. When the song melts into a breakdown overlaid with sonorous ringing notes, the listener is lulled into believing the storm is over, after which the guitar gymnastics hit them; the call and response in the leads is a nice touch I could imagine many older bands doing. A particularly fun song on the more aggressive, melodeath end of the spectrum is ‘Under No Illusions’—which is exactly what you should be before you listen to it. A great barrage of riffing at home on a Kalmah record (with some lead work to match) and an addictive shouted chorus make it a listen to remember. And the neoclassical flourishes in the solo add intensity to an already furious experience.

The band are no strangers to switching it up and getting emotional, as ‘What Dreams May Come’ shows. The song is mostly an artful ballad, switching on the gas at critical moments, and by the time it switches to full-blast, the listener is more than ready. It also shows some impressively emotive lead work. ‘Parachute’ seems like a more modern-rock type of song and is an interesting inclusion on a record that is still at its core defined by the power of 80s thrash, but it does work. It’s a little like ‘Halo of Fire’ from Hardwired in that way; a similar dynamic between gentle arpeggiation and pounding choruses is present. I wouldn’t put it on myself, however, and it seems like the closest thing to filler on here. Savage Messiah are definitely a band that isn’t afraid to let the vocalist shine. Although dominated by more riff-driven thrash attack, there is a good amount of work on this album representing the band’s more melodic inclinations—and let’s not forget that melody and aggression aren’t always mutually exclusive.

In terms of how the album is structured, there is never a feeling of monotony or sense that you’ve been listening to the same thing for hours on end. The songs themselves are pretty varied, and the band was careful to interject more laid-back offerings between their thrashier songs. It’s pretty easy to tell what songs will have what feel to them; obviously ‘The Bitter Truth’ is going to be thrash-oriented (and brilliantly so), whereas ‘What Dreams May Come’ just sounds like it’s going to be a ballad. The album keeps the trend of alternating between feels mostly constant throughout; songs that might be too similar never follow one another. It does a nice job of making their work sound fresh instead of uninspired. The album does close with two back-to-back thrashers, but that is pretty expected considering album openers and closers are usually the most powerful statements. For a band like Savage Messiah, that isn’t too much of a struggle as memorability has always been a strength with their music.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Virtue Signal
2. What Dreams May Come
3. Heretic in the Modern World
4. Parachute
5. Under No Illusions
6. Down and Out
7. The Lights Are Going Out
8. The Bitter Truth
9. Until the Shadows Fall
10. Rise Then Fall
11. Steal the Faith in Me
Lineup:
Mira Slama - Bass
David Silver - Guitar/Vocals
David Hruska - Vocals/Guitar
Charly Carretón  - Drums
Record Label: Century Media Records
     


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