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If Only It Could Mirror the Cover Art More... - 60%

doomknocker, May 23rd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, AFM Records (Digipak)

It's not every day (or every few years, even) that we get a new batch of recorded works from Belgium's power metal fellows. Moving beyond simple Malmsteenery and venturing into a sound they could call their own (well, within reason...), the listening public has been able to watch as the group grew from horribly-produced roots into something that flirts on sensational over their almost 20 years in existence. Within reason, of course. But during each successive disappearance, it becomes harder, over time, to think them over until such a time when something new comes our way (I'm being real, here...), so

While "Savage Requiem" won't redefine power metal in any stretch of the word, what the listener gets is, instead, a rather solid affair with more virtues than vices. The main musical focus combines the straightforward hard rockin' of Power Quest with a mild-to-moderate amount of epic grandiosity with more reliance on melodies born of choirs and guitar leads as opposed to multiple layers of symphonic gloss (or cheese depending on who you are). This in itself is quite an interesting turn of events; there are keyboards here, sure, but they seem to only serve to expand upon the ideas already presented in the riffwork, blending in a more subtle fashion than one would come to expect with this kind of feel and approach. If anything, the lead guitar work contains most of the flash and flair (as mentioned before), which are plentifully quick and harmonic yet thankfully straying far enough from overkill as possible to render them ignorable or overlooked because of it. But when the compositional level is loaded to the brim alongside these finer traits it’s money…pure, unadulterated money (“Guardian Angels” and the more deep moments of “Full Moon Sacrifice” let you have it right between ye eyes).

Yet that said, and to be utterly frank and a bit unfair, "Savage Requiem" is rather good and more than simply competently written and performed, but it's not quite as thundering in itself as one would hope it to be. The pacing is fine and the level of songwriting and creativity never dips below “simply entertaining”, but all the same I felt a touch cold and distant with the material at hand. Almost like the stylistic level was lower than it should’ve been, or the material itself feels more restrained than is necessary. Much of it comes from the rather rock-like format and arrangement scheme versus zipping about all over the place with energy and melody to spare (per usual with even the more low-key of power metal acts), which in itself robs quite a bit of the songs’ potency along the way, yet not so much as to not find it all anything less than simply a good, engaging listen. If anything that’s the main issue of contention with me (…well, the vocals aren’t the best, they kinda slide out of key more than they should, but that’s about it), so if all you’re wanting is a simpler method of the melodic/power metal aesthetic, then this’ll tickle your fancy quite a bit.

All in all “Savage Requiem” was enjoyable and well done, yet it doesn’t offer as much as one would come to hope or expect. Yet it’s within those limitations that you can still find plenty to appreciate. I can’t say it blew me away, but at the same time it didn’t lose me. More than slightly recommended.