Review Summary: Savage Messiah always lent heavily on their more mainstream metal influences, but on Hands of Fate they divert too strongly away from their thrash direction without the songwriting chops or hooks to justify a modern melodic metal approach.
Savage Messiah have historically succeeded not so much due to songwriting chops, but due to their strong instrumental skills and fast paced thrash, which helped to smooth over some of the somewhat wrote grooves and awkward choices in their tracks. Their previous album, The Fateful Dark, managed to pretty much take their previous "modernized Metallica
approach to a decent conclusion, with an understanding of their songwriting weaknesses. The issue with their newest effort, Hands of Fate, is that it ignores the band's shortcomings with its simplified approach.
Hands of Fate strips down the riff approach to slower chugs and guitar harmonies, reminiscent of some of the NWOAHM bands like Trivium
. Whilst this style can work, particularly given Savage Messiah's strength at hooky guitar leads, the problems lie in the structural weakness of Savage Messiah's songwriting. Whilst the verses often prove tame but serviceable, the choruses are generally weak across the whole effort. David Silver's vocals aren't the greatest, and without strong hooks in the guitar lines, the choruses often serve as an inadequate diversion from the meat of the songwriting.
The other issue is that, with the greater emphasis on chorus based songwriting and melodic stylings, the actual amount of good content outside the choruses is also decreased. The transition to the guitar solo after Wing and a Prayer
's chorus is great, but the rest of the song can't keep up with it in terms of ideas, and the decreased pace causes it to lack energy. The title track's harmonies are also quite effective, and the chorus for once has some effective hooks, but the main riff is essentially a glorified rip-off of Enter Sandman, and a pretty boring one too. The vocal emphasis also undermines some potentially good moments, such as on Solar Corona
, which starts with a decent melodic riff, but as soon as David Silver's strained crooning comes in it undermines the track quite drastically.
Not all the tracks are as disappointing, thankfully. Eat Your Heart Out
does some good work outside of its awful chorus, thanks to some good riffs. Blood Red Road
is genuinely great, thanks to some good harmonies and a bit more of a power metal feel, and David Silver's vocals manage to not quite ruin the hook in the chorus. The pace also decidedly picks up during the solo, which is easily one of the most energetic moments of the album and one of the few times the album catches up with the band's past efforts. The Crucible
works much better as a mid paced stomper than most of the other tracks present, although again some ideas seem to have been plagiarized, this time from Wherever I May Roam of all things. These few good tracks, and the occasional glimpse of good ideas in the rest, unfortunately fail to overturn the problems with the choruses and energy-less verses.
Hands of Fate is a lesson to Savage Messiah that ambition, and indeed admiration, needs to be tempered with acknowledgement for what your band's strengths are. Like Trivium before them, the Metallica aping moments of this album tend to be quite tired, and the greater emphasis on choruses ends up being a bit of a disaster, thanks to Silver's poor delivery overall and a lack of effective hooks. The irony is that Plague of Conscience is greatly hookier than this album, and when going back to the drawing board it'll hopefully serve as a more useful blueprint for success.