Quite a few eyebrows were raised back when Savage Messiah's third album, Plague of Conscience
, was available free with a Metal Hammer issue in 2012. Later in the same year the band performed live at Hammerfest to a hall jam-packed with thrash metal enthusiasts, and what's slightly strange about this is that Evile were playing on a bigger stage in the very next room, to a relatively small crowd. Now I know all this, because I remember being absolutely delighted by those stunning guitar melodies and eccentric solos from listening to Plague of Conscience
for the very first time. The same could be said for seeing the band at Hammerfest. Yet despite the fact that 2012 was definitively the year for Savage Messiah to walk their way into mainstream success, they still like to be thought of as an underground thrash metal act.
This year marks the release of Savage Messiah's fourth full-length, The Fateful Dark
, so it's inevitable that those who enjoyed Plague of Conscience
will be expecting a lot from this album too. The first thing that stands out, and this is unfortunately the thing which seems to cripple The Fateful Dark
's quality, is Dave Silver's seemingly half-hearted vocals. They're not terrible, of course, but you can tell from listening to the eccentric guitar work (played by the same musician) that the vocals come across as weak and tiresome. Evidently the vocals aren't always as weak compared to the instrumental performance, as on the album's two highlights “Live as one already dead” and the title track, but for the most part there seems to be a lack of passion in Silver's delivery. He does reach the high notes on the two aforementioned songs, but that's about it, and before long you're wondering why Silver didn't develop a more varied vocal style.
That said, the instrumentation here, despite having a slight lack of originality, is impressive. Perhaps “impressive” could be applied to the guitar work more than the drums or bass, but everything does seem to flow together in a concise manner. The band's hybrid style of thrash and straight-for-the-throat heavy metal works wonders for the sound in general, and you can hear how much more effort has been put into solidifying every single riff and solo. The drum work is effective enough though merely follows on to the guitars' structure as opposed to the other way around, and the bass at times is virtually non-existent. Despite these minor discrepancies however, you can't argue against the quality of the rhythm section in songs such as the Sabbathian “Hellblazer”, “Hammered down” and “Scavengers of Mercy”. Interestingly enough, the band seem to be at their very best when taking on a thrashier style as opposed to a sound closely related to heavy or even speed metal, and that's probably the reason why the aforementioned songs are staples of the band's mostly cohesive sound. As it has been from day one for Savage Messiah, the band's penchant for pumping out eccentric solo after solo is displayed continuously on The Fateful Dark
. The solos for the most part seem to emulate the main riff but then almost explode out of the speakers in as extreme and vicious a manner as Slayer's mid-to-late 80s era, songs such as "Cross of Babylon" and album closer "The cursed Earth" finishing perfectly as a result.
Some may baulk at how polished the production is, but there's nothing displayed on The Fateful Dark
that you won't like on Plague of Conscience
. Despite the so-so vocal style of Dave Silver you can still largely appreciate how solid and cohesive the instrumentation is here. It's nothing out of the ordinary or particularly original, but there's something about Savage Messiah which makes albums like this all the more genuine to a fan of metal in general. This album will undoubtedly bring the band one step closer to mainstream success but won't quite catapult them into the heart of the mass media either.