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Screaming Savior are one of the most famous melodic black metal bands from China. Throughout the last years, more and more bands of this genre arose from the underground thanks to many club shows in the big Chinese cities and now these bands even got their record deals and start to spread their music all round the world thanks to the internet. This kind of music might not be too impressive and innovating for someone who has bands such as Absu, Cradle Of Filth or Dimmu Borgir around but we talk about a band from a country where it was and still is somewhat difficult to get access to this kind of music and therefor, Screaming Savior really do a pioneer work that should not be underestimated.
On the other side, this music might only be a gem for a fan of modern melodic black metal with a lot of epic symphonic influences and a couple of small Chinese folk passages. The Chinese lyrics give the whole thing an exotic touch but apart of that this is the kind of release that could come from any other corner of the world and should definitely be accessible for the genre fans. In my opinion, the symphonic elements are even a little bit too present and the final result sounds somewhat overloaded. At least, the band rarely uses useless blast beat passages that many Western bands employ and that I find quite annoying after a while.
As highlights, I would first mention the sacral and epic opener "宿星 / Star of Fatality" that kicks the record off in a quite good way and makes you want more. "永战之海 / Ocean of Asura" was a good single choice at is not only a very varied track but has also the most catchy melodies from all songs. This track is definitely the highlight of the record and has an epic pirate atmosphere. The amazing album closer "极宇 / Across the Boundary of Cosmos" rather touches a space topic and develops an epic and majestic atmosphere by touching something that is not yet overused in the genre. The band should go further in this kind of direction next time.
There are other good tracks to mention. "祈冥 / Pray to the Chthonic" is a short and very slow song with female choirs that sounds different from all the other songs without sounding out of place. If the band had more ideas like this one and would take the risks to employ more experiments of this kind, their next album could be a genre highlight. I must also mention the following "圣颂：往征者 / Ode to the Expedition" which is a song that I like and that many will probably dislike. Let me explain you why. The song is dominated by epic keyboard sounds that sound like a mixture of Alestorm, Turisas and Europe. This is not very original but next to the amazing "永战之海 / Ocean of Asura", this track has the best single potential and should easily please to a larger audience. There is a lot of kitsch in this track but its catchy as hell. In fact, the whole record should please to fans of power and symphonic metal as the black metal elements are not too harsh to disturb fans of these genres while traditional black metal fans might quickly skip this release.
In the end, the band doesn't reinvent the genre and takes maybe a little bit too many influences from many famous Western melodic and symphonic black metal bands. Screaming Savior though know how to write epic tracks with catchy melodies and should definitely get more attention as they might please to a quite large audience except of the true black metal maniacs. Acoustic guitar breaks, haunting piano melodies or folk influenced violin passages guarantee for a good amount of diversity so that this record never gets boring. On the other side, the band should by now find its own identity and maybe concentrate on the fact that they are Chinese by working on the few but impressive Asian folk influences, some good female vocal passages and by keeping and increasing the amount of epic tales which can be found in their lyrics.
Screaming Savior have released their second album, which might be difficult to obtain because physical copies are only to be spread by a Chinese label so far. The only way to actually listen to the music is via download, which is provided by the band for free.
'宙海' is of a kind that will rather appeal to those fans, whose preferences in terms of black metal tend to focus on the modern interpretation of this genre. 'Screaming Savior' sound like a watered down version of Dimmu Borgir with additional heaviness. A lot of bombast, tons of keyboards, a distinct balancing of the instruments, a good amount of aggressiveness as well as dynamics, a powerful production bla bla bla.
Yes, it is a good release, but it lacks innovation and something that would make it stand out amongst the legions of other bands. Listenable, enjoyable … but hardly memorable over a longer period. A short sedative to a spark of interest of the modern type of black metal. Even after a good amount of spins I cannot say that it left any traces whatsoever. It is not tiring … it is simply too generic.
Based on a review originally written for ‘A dead spot of light (Number 19)’:
China is probably one of the last places you'd think of when it comes to producers of awesome extreme metal. After all, they're ruled by a communist dictatorship that despises any form of art that makes you think. And yet here we have Screaming Savior's latest full-length, Infinity, quite easily one of the best metal albums ever made in China.
China is a vast, massive country with an epic history dating back five thousand years, and Screaming Savior made sure to reflect this in their music. For one thing, they've included a lot of bombastic symphonic elements into their music. However, unlike many other metal bands who attempt this, they include these elements in a way that amplifies the metal instead of overpowering it. You know all those complaints about Fleshgod Apocalypse's Agony album where the orchestral elements overpowered the metal? This album doesn't really have that problem. The metal and the orchestra intertwine and complement each other.
Then again, the orchestra means nothing if the metal is not up to task. Luckily, the metal on this album is fucking brilliant. I never knew China could make something like this. They may not be breaking new ground, but they take what already exists and play it with almost scientific precision. I've done some research (read: looked up their band page on Metal Archives) and I discovered that these guys have been around since 2001. They obviously have a great deal of experience under their belt, and it really shows in the guitar work. They do a lot of fast and furious shredding (“Star of Fatality”, “Sanguinary Salvation”), but they also do some melodic and atmospheric solos (“Ocean of Asura”, “Pray to the Chthonic”), and of course, they don't forget the face-melting solos (“Ode to the Expedition”).
However, they do remember to pay attention to the other elements. As I said before, the drums aren't doing anything new, but they pound and blast with absolute ferocity and a level of skill that's hard to top. There are three kinds of vocals on this album. First, there's the standard black metal croak. It's nothing new, but it's still well-performed. He also pulls off these low death growls from time to time that serves as a nice juxtaposition. Finally, there are the clean vocals. They only show up on about two songs, but they really took me by surprise. These multiple vocal styles really add a great deal of variety and keep the album from getting boring.
I know it's a bit early to declare this, but Infinity ranks up there with Obolus's Lament, Agruss's Morok, and Pseudogod's Deathwomb Catechesis as one of the best metal albums of the year. When I first got into the depths of extreme metal back in 2005, China's metal scene was downright puny. I never expected anything like this to be created. China is a rising star in the world economy in every aspect, even metal.