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The recent resurgence of thrash metal has managed to bring a few jolts to the once floundering UK scene, spawning a number of respectable acts of the more old school persuasion. Among these is a wicked outfit out of London in Savage Messiah that have managed to straddle some of the modern trappings inherent in the recent output of more established acts such as Annihilator and Exodus and married the sound to the classic NWOBHM influenced older style while avoiding many of the downsides of the former style. “Spitting Venom” entered to understandable media hype in 2007 considering the company that it shared during that time (Warbringer anyone?), and has actually managed to live up to a good deal of it.
While this band definitely has their “No Life ‘Til Leather” image down pat, the overall vibe of this album has a bit more of a sci-fi feel to it, almost like a late re-entry to the “Painkiller” approach with a lot of speed metal trappings. The first album that tends to come to mind is “Carnival Diablos”, though the vocal approach is a bit more of a vintage in character and brings an equal helping of Halford and Hetfield to the mix. Dave Silver definitely gets the job done something fierce on here, separating himself from a sizable pack of generic screamers and actually brings a strong helping of melody into the equation, while the guitar work definitely takes on a strong retro feel during the lead breaks and conjures up images of very early Kirk Hammett mixed with some K.K. Downing.
On the whole, this album is at its best during the first few songs where things are mostly in up tempo territory. “Frontline” and “Servant To Your Death” pull out some nice Bay Area styled elements, but largely tend to resemble that early 90s character where things are taken a bit slower and develop in a more gradual manner. It isn’t until “Heaven’s Gate” that things flirt with epic territory, but for most of this listen the album feels a bit drawn out despite the mostly shorter time lengths, making the ears question whether this is an EP or an LP. “W.D.U.” almost leaps into “…And Justice For All” territory, while “Conspiracy In Silence” languishes a bit in a morbidly subdued fashion reminiscent of Overkill’s “The Years Of Decay”. If nothing else, this band definitely wants to avoid coming off as outright one-dimensional.
It’s a foregone conclusion that anyone who took to the now ubiquitous thrash revival scene will probably go for this, though it does do a fair share to differentiate itself from the pack. This isn’t quite overt Metallica worship, nor does it try to fully marry itself to the Exodus or Annihilator sound, but there are enough elements of all 3 to deceive the ears into thinking that from one song to the next. And for those who just want a straight up ass kicking in less than 4 minutes, check out “In For The Kill” in all of its neck-destroying glory, you won’t be sorry.
With my mind completely being turned inside out by fellow countrymen Evile, Savage Messiah have also recently crashed onto the U.K scene in a similar fashion (i.e to nothing but great press and hype). Having taken this in a good few times now, I can see that Savage Messiah know their Thrash inside out, and have manage to emulate a mixture of the classics onto a singular crushing concoction by way of 'Spitting Venom'.
Savage Messiah have a mixture of thrashy sounds. Some parts could easily be confused for something off of one of the last few Exodus albums production-wise, whilst managing to keep it a lot more 'old school' in the riff department for the most part, with most songs containing a classic metal, almost Priest or Maiden-like melodic section which really shows of the band's songwriting prowess to the nth degree. The vocal work at times reminds me of a cross between Chuck Billy and Alex Creamer of ne'er do well mid-nineties Thrash wannabes Dearly Beheaded, with a nice tonality that fits the music well. But, at the end of the day, it's all down to the riffs (this is Thrash after all), and luckily Savage Messiah are certainly no slouches when it comes to penning an incisive passage, with songs tearing it up one minute, before sinking into a relaxed melody, prior to unexpected smacking you in the chops with their next big lick or memorable chorus. The album is replete with excellent soloing naturally, reminding at best of the likes of Skolnick and Holt, managing to both be technically proficient as well as retaining a great ear for melody.
To me at least, it seems the quality of U.K domiciled Thrash Metal bands seems to be improving at a fantastic rate, and with the likes of these guys spearheading the charge, the future of Thrash looks very rosy indeed.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com
After Headless Cross dissolved, Savage Messiah was formed out of the ashes and within a year of formation the whole line up aside from Dave Silver had changed from what it was at the start. So the spirit if Headless Cross is still within Dave then. Although in fairness only one of them left under negative circumstances.
At some point before all that happened the Spitting Venom EP was released. I think this was written and recorded as Headless Cross anyway, judging from the fact that former Cross members appear on the EP but never appeared on any Savage Messiah line up. This, as well as the fact that 4 of the songs have appeared on Headless Cross released before sort of begs the question of whether Savage Messiah was nothing more than a name change than a new band.
Anyway, the music. This is much better than the In Cold Blood EP (even though 3 of the 4 songs on that EP make an appearance here, but they sound better and the poorest song was left out) and is a worthy successor to the awesome Burning Sanctuary EP of 2005. For the record, I’m only going to review the 5 songs that didn’t appear on In Cold Blood. If you want to read about those songs, read that review as well.
Things start with the awesome title track which starts with a few seconds of feedback before attacking you with a heavy riff at twice the speed of sound. Dave’s vocals are then interswapped (is that a word? It is now) with some flashy lead work that sounds awesome, and it’s all topped off with a killer heavy chorus. A top notch thrash song.
“Frontline” is more mid paced, but no less thrashy and equally unforgiving. Get past the first song from the last Cross EP and we get to HEAVEN’S GATE!!! This is a song that was originally on the Crown of Thorns demo, before Burning Sanctuary, before Dave took over as the vocalist. This version is far better, with better production and much better vocals. The song has a riff that has similarities to “Master of Puppets” and even goes into a quiet interlude, but where the Metallica song failed this succeeds, containing some genuine atmosphere with whispered quotations from Tipitaka before going into a kick ass solo, rather than the silly boring meandering of the Metallica song.
As stated in my Headless Cross reviews, Dave Silver sounds a bit like Dave Mustaine, but more guttural and harsh. Past another In Cold Blood era song and we get to the ballad “Conspiracy in Silence”. Burning Sanctuary had a ballad of its own called “Blinding Sorrow” which was awesome and sounded a bit like “Fade to Black”. This one is even better with nicer melodies and a killer dark atmosphere. Dave’s vocals are awesome here, as are all the riffs.
A wee while after the In Cold Blood EP was released, Dave Silver himself sent me a rough instrumental he and drummer Sal Christian had written during a rehearsal. It was entitled “In For The Kill” and was a high paced power metal tinged thrasher with killer riffs and leads and was one of the best things I’d ever heard the band do. Here, the completed version makes it’s loud and aggressive appearance, complete with lyrics.
Things end with the title track of the previous EP and as stated in my review of that release, it’s a pretty unexciting mid paced thrash song that doesn’t really stand out. The worst song on here. Still, at least they left “Remission” out of this one.
So to sum up, this is an awesome debut to the Savage Messiah name, and is worth every penny for any thrash fans. One of the best bands in this “thrash revival” by far.