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Worthy Successor - 80%

DeathRiderDoom, April 5th, 2010

#42 In My NWOBHM Rarities Review Series

Savage’s sweltering 1983 debut ‘Loose & Lethal’ made its fair share of waves in the metal scene upon release. The long-running project of Chris Bradley (Vocals, Bass) & Andy Dawson (guitars) was able to craft out a masterpiece of ultra-tough, raw and masculine rock n roll with a level of balls matched by few others at the time. Though the album sold well (25,000 units in the first few months) and received excellent feedback from critics and fans, cementing its place as one of the finest British metal albums ever produced (Sharpe – Young, 2007), Savage could not rest on those laurels. With Ebony’s backing, and a growing popularity, the band was one of the few who had proved successful enough that they could make a follow up album. Eyes were on Savage with big tour dates with Metallica, Venom and Sortilege, and their fanbase was eager for a strong follow up to the ass kicking debut.

With their growing popularity however, Ebony proved incapable of the level of promotion required and the band opted for Zebra Records, which resulted in the EP, ‘We Got the Edge’ before finally in the full-length follow up ‘Hyperactive’ in 1985. The album sold well on account of the bands still rather underground following, but Zebra also proved incapable of launching the band in the way the required. Hence, ‘Hyperactive’ became the band’s last full length – until a reunion many years later, but things were never really the same. As a result of the change in record company, and recording methods (the debut was recorded in the front room of a flea pit of a house – according to Bradley), the album comes out with a slightly different sound, but the overall songwriting is fairly similar. Fans of the debut should have been pleased with the result.

The sound here continues the very tough, aggressive riffing style present on the debut, and the same Phil Lynot-esque style lyrics and songwriting which made said album standout. Zebra’s small status actually seems to contribute to a rather rough recording job, that though slightly more refined than the debut is still a bit murky. Either way this seemed to be what the band wanted, to a greater or lesser extent, as feedback from listeners held the general consensus that the sound on the first album was unique and contributed to the raw feel of the album. Drums on this one have a very raw sound, while bass seems to be fairly inaudible a lot of the time. It’s an odd feel, but it seems to work for the bands unique style.

In the tradition of their prior work, Savage continues a tradition of tough riffs and great hooks, not mention powerful solos. ‘Eye for an Eye’ has a very heavy feel, very much representing the type of guitar tone and riffs which typified the 1985 era. ‘Cardiac’ is a massive dominator with an ever-so-catchy hook, and tough as nails guitars. Bradley’s gruff, booming British baritone weaves through the material with passion and authority, and his performance is strong right the way through. ‘Hard on Your Heels’ revolves around a massively catchy hook by Bradley and relentless crunching guitars and squeals. Deeper touches include the lengthy ‘Stevies Vengeance’ while ‘Keep it on Ice’ keeps things catchy and sounds akin to material on the debut.

Despite the problems the band had endured, personnel and label-wise, Savage comes up with a very strong follow up to their much revered debut offering. Bradley’s songwriting shows no sign of slowing down (though that would arguably come with their next EP), and a distinct air of professionalism and talent is found throughout the album. With such a genuine tough as nails sound, it seems a shame Savage weren’t able to procure the support they needed to make it really big. Two solid albums were produced that could have definitely benefited from proper management which always held them back. Still, for those who like it crunchy, ‘Hyperactive’ is a worthy successor to ‘Loose & Lethal’, and can hold its own against most NWOBHM records, certainly deserving a spot in heavy metal’s history books.

-DeathRiderDoom