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Slaves Wage – Heaven or Hell

Slaves Wage
Heaven or Hell
by Rachel Montgomery at 29 May 2020, 6:07 PM

SLAVE’S WAGE is a Christian metal band that’s been around for over two decades. Inspired by traditional metal, which is fitting when you remember that BLACK SABBATH originally carried Christian themes in their songs (the crosses on stage weren’t intended to be taken as satanic symbols). Their sound is more like 80s metal, particularly New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWBHM) and Glam metal influences. There are a few songs that buck the trend, most notably “Soul Slave” which sounds like Nu Metal (interestingly, since Nu Metal was often a target of the American Christian Right in the 1990s) and  the instrumental tracks, which are more progressive. As far as this album goes, “Heaven Or Hell” holds up instrumentally, but if you’re not hardcore Christian, the overt message of salvation through accepting Jesus or going to Hell could be.

The first song is an instrumental that proves the band has musical chops, as do the subsequent parts. “The Eternal Triumvirate, Part 1” serves as an intro, with additional parts as an interlude and closer for the album. They’re instrumentals employing different musical tricks and engaging ambiance, especially Part 2. I love the hollow drums in “The Eternal Triumvirate Part 2”, eliciting this image of a walk through the desert. The closer, “The Eternal Triumvirate, Part 3” is heavy like the first one, and carries an uplifting, high-pitched guitar melody to play the listener out. These songs sound nearly progressive and they’re my favorite part of the album. On a side note, their instrumental flavorings are explicitly based on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the music matches themes from each one. The first track  Then, there’s the lyrical tracks. The second track, “Push”, is more of a traditional metal ballad. It’s where the lyrics come in and if you didn’t know before, that they were Christian, you do now. Most of the songs talk about salvation through Jesus. “Heaven Or Hell,” the title track, has an explicit Christian message about salvation or damnation via faith. While the guitar solo is well-executed, although it has some distortion at the end that takes away from it, the lyrics overshadow the music with… preachiness. “I Feel You” is more of a testimony rather than an outright call to Christ. However, it’s one of those notorious Christian Jesus-love songs that feels a little too loving. I will give them points for variety, though, as “I Feel You” was a slow ballad breaking up two heavier songs. The next one, “Cry Out” begins with grungy guitars and the vocals are smooth and really, really palatable. Plus, the lyrics are subtler, though still distinctly Christian especially at the end. I actually like this song. The sweeps in the guitar solo are really well-executed. Interestingly, they feature tuned-down mud and guttural vocals in “Soul Slave” which sounds like a Nu Metal song, bucking the trend of this more traditional metal album. The next song, “All Alone” takes cues from glam metal ballads of the 1980s, continuing a good, varied arrangement that keeps the album moving.

I’ll admit, I’m pagan, so I never really got into Christian metal. This album is preaching to the wrong choir here. That said, for people who have been saved and still want their metal, it’s not bad. Musically, it’s pretty good. There are some overtly preachy lyrics here and there, but if you’re the target audience, you probably don’t mind. Either case, the instrumentals are on point as is the singing. The bands I’ve liked from the genre, like DEMON HUNTER usually have subtler lyrics and usually stick to thematic elements of Christianity rather than outright evangelizing. If you’re hard-core Christian, this would be a band to check out – they’re musically spot-on. If not, the preachiness will be a turn-off, but I recommend listening to the beautiful instrumental tracks.

Songwriting: 7
Production: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Eternal Triumvirate Part 1
2. Push
3. Heaven or Hell
4. I Feel You
5. Cry Out
6. The Eternal Triumvirate Part 2
7. Doom
8. Soul Slave
9. All Alone
10. The Stone
11. The Eternal Triumvirate Part 3
Lineup:
Jeff Saentz – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
James Johnson – Lead Guitar
Xavier Sierra – Bass
Pedro Cortes – Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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Edited 15 July 2020
 

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