Review Summary: The priests will vomit in agony!
If you saw Electric Wizard live circa “Black Masses,” or if you’ve seen pictures of them around from the time, you’ll know that Tas Danazoglou is one scary mother***er. In his new band, Satan’s Wrath, where he handles drums, bass and vocals alongside guitarist Stamos K. he does absolutely nothing to dispel said notion. Mixing Bay Area intensity, Maiden-like riffs, and a grotesque growl worthy of the sickest German demos of the mid 80s, Satan’s Wrath debut is one of the most effective albums yet produced by this recent trend of old-school heavy metal.
The album kicks off with the anguished screams of a tortured woman and an invocation to the Master himself, after which we are treated to a chunky mid-paced tune with some badass riffs. At first nothing seems terribly special; Possessed quotes abound, reverb is heartily abused and Lucifer is properly hailed. Only halfway through the song do Satan’s Wrath start to show themselves as something special, thanks Stamos’ ripping solo and the eerie bridge section that follows it. Though the songs on the first half of the album are good and tightly arranged, they suffer a tad from a lack of energy (exempting the maddening lead single “Between Belial and Satan”). The band however shows a penchant for smart songwriting, particularly in bridge sections such as the extended closing of “Hail Tritone, Hail Lucifer.”
After the somewhat underwhelming instrumental title track, “Galloping Blasphemy” really kicks off. “Death Possessed” and “Slaves of the Inverted Cross” are evil, crunchy and brilliantly written doses of thrash, full of small flashes and details that reveal intelligent musicians are behind the work. “Death to Life” has the tastiest riffs you’ll hear all year, a strange mixture between 70s hard rock badassery and Hellhammer occultism that will leave you begging for more, not to mention an absolutely killer solo. Satan’s Wrath don’t overlook the fact that what gave a lot of classic metal its status as such was not only the epics, the blood and the distortion, but also tight, catchy songwriting and a fun, energetic atmosphere (a facet of the genre that “intellectual” American bands tend to completely misunderstand), and the band serves up healthy doses of these elements with delightfully evil glee.
Satan’s Wrath succeed in their style of throwback metal for a number of reasons. One is the tightness of their musicianship. Danazoglou is tight, sharp and not too repetitive. Stamos K. is simply the coolest guitarist around; his leads are melodic, aggressive and yet curiously restrained, as he chooses, smartly, to opt out of pure Kerry King madness, playing a style more influenced by Iron Maiden and early thrash bands, as made evident by the abundant guitar harmonies on the record. Another plus for “Galloping Blasphemy” is the songwriting. While not particularly original, which is of course precisely the idea behind a release like this one, the songs are tightly arranged and sometimes take surprising and exciting turns. The album is filled with little details, in both arrangement and performance that show how these musicians are both talented and perceptive; they simply prefer to play in a very well established style that they love.
The band’s very love for all things heavy metal might be the key to the album’s ultimate success. You see, said love oozes off every note, making the album’s energy feel genuine and somehow, contradictory as this might sound, unique. As shown in the excellent closer, inevitably titled “Satan’s Wrath,” Danazoglou and Stamos aren’t afraid to slow down and tread some more epic waters. The track shows a clear Rainbow/early Judas Priest influence without feeling out of place with the thrashier tracks, scoring a magnificent win for the band. NWOBHM, thrash, early black/death and hard rock all blend as one on “Galloping Blasphemy,” which turns out as a clever, energy-fuelled, and most importantly fun as *** tribute to the coolest style of music in the world, while still standing strong as a work on its own thanks to the talent of the musicians involved. Up the ***ing horns.
Go listen to:
Between Belial and Satan
Death To Life