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Finding their niche just in time to retire - 85%

Gutterscream, May 9th, 2005
Written based on this version: 1986, 12" vinyl, Metal Blade Records

“…confess thy sins, purge thy soul, verdict is given, cry no more, but bear
the sentence of a trial by fire…”

Much like the great Cusack flick Identity, five different personalities squabbled on The Dominatress. Some died as members left, but unlike the movie a new invigorating persona moved in, and with charm and clarity banded those left into the ultra-NWOBHM sound of Master of Disguise. That master of disguise was some step-brother of Eddie, breathing more Maiden inspiration into Savage Grace’s first full-lengther than most. With After the Fall From Grace, even the replica-Eddie persona has splintered into something out of Maiden’s far-reaching range. They’ve finally found their niche.

The music isn’t the only change. Vocalist Mike Smith and drummer Dan Finch have flown the coop with Mark Marcum taking over the pigskins and new guitarist Mark Chase Marshall accompanying Logue in the rhythmic density. Logue mans the mike as well, and with raised brow one has to wonder why he just didn’t take that mantle in the first place. Not only are his tones every bit as high-pitched and sharp as the previous owners of the job, he successfully takes a stab at the brusque end of the spectrum as heard in the roiling “Trial By Fire”.

Wild solos scream the birth of “A Call To Arms”, a slow, mighty build-up to the swift, chorus-heavy “We Came, We Saw, We Conquered”. Rhythms and melodies are much less derivative of Maiden and is nowhere near as prevalent as the finger-dancing Master of Disguise, keeping the ‘clone-ism’ to a minimum. The title cut reenters the more measured “A Call to Arms” appeal while militarily marching to life is “Trial by Fire”, a top track on the edge of peril, relentlessly on the move, roughed up by unexpected malicious vox coiling with the customary spotless shrilling.

Another martial gait leads side two and the 25-second, deep-voiced narrative of “Palestinia”. With “Age of Innocence” and “Flesh and Blood” we hear a thrash din that isn’t the usual head-down and charge type stuff, but something more harmonious and less lethal without losing its compelling air. Complex solos are the backbone of the expeditious “Destination Unknown”, meanwhile wrapping up the lp is “Tales of Mystery”, a saga of widespread early Queensryche influence especially conspicuous in the provocative vocal style that imbues the chorus.

As stated earlier, it would seem the gracefully savage ones have found their style with ATFFG only to perform what their final, nearly unheard ep says and ride into the night. In the end and as good as they were, I believe the band had probably run its course.