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Snake Eyes and the Midnight Dice - 90%

Twisted_Psychology, August 10th, 2022

While Savage Master’s brand of classic metal has always had a catchy edge, it feels like their fourth album makes a more noticeable bid for accessibility. This is immediately established with “Hunt at Night;” in contrast to the band’s past openers opting for a hard-driving fast pace, this track has a more gradual beginning shaped by a more atmospheric synth patch and a pulsating mid-tempo bass line. “A Warrior’s Return” and “Queen Satan” are also slower standouts, putting in particularly percussive verses and a fun call-and-response chorus on the former.

The musicianship also feels a little more put together, seemingly working off the more polished production that came about with 2019’s Myth, Magic, and Steel. The vocals feel especially reined in with the lead vocals aiming for a more tuneful delivery while still maintaining a raw, untrained demeanor while the gang shouts and other layers often contributing their own melodicism. Thankfully it never feels too watered down or too far removed from their past works.

And with that, Those Who Hunt at Night is still largely defined by the band’s tried and true speed metal. “Eyes Behind the Stars” and “The Hangman’s Tree” are the sort of fast-paced anthems one would expect with speedy chugs, driving drums, and life-affirming choruses. As much as I find myself wishing “Rain of Tears” had stayed at the building pace of its introduction for just a little longer, it has some good momentum once it gets going. “The Death of Time” also makes for an interesting closer, channeling something like Manowar’s “Bridge of Death” with its more ominous theatrics.

Overall, Those Who Hunt at Night is some nice classic metal comfort with just enough tweaks to keep from feeling tired. There isn’t too much of a drastic overhaul as the cleaner aspects are subtle and work off the band’s pre-established strengths. It doesn’t quite the staple appeal of 2016’s With Whips and Chains or Myth, Magic, and Steel, but there are plenty of songs worthy of their live set. If anything, it’s affirmation of Savage Master’s status as one of the more consistent groups in their genre.

A Warrior's Return - 85%

Nattskog7, August 6th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2022, Digital, Shadow Kingdom Records

Kentucky heavy metal traditionalists Savage Master are back with their highly anticipated 4th album.

Pounding 80s style synths and kicks come in with biting riffs soon ensuing, giving us an instant assault of feisty and contagious heavy metal. Stacey’s chilling vocals complete the mix, howling eerily upon the percussive, chugging rhythms. Those unfamiliar with Savage Master, will be greeted with some extremely catchy and convincingly old school material, while long-term fans will see quickly that this excellent band have not lost their touch. The opening moments of “Those Who Hunt At Night” blend the rhythmic sensibilities of Accept with the occult feelings of Pagan Altar to give us some truly headbanger-friendly material. Having talked about the rhythm sections, it is worth underlining the lead work is no weak link, often bluesy with a focus on the pentatonic scale, adding a lot of feeling, sleaze and soul to the rocking attack. There is plentiful melody in their songs which take many harmonious cues from the NWOBHM bands, while having something distinctly American to their sound, largely in the vocal department. We are off to a flying start.

Perhaps the greatest strength of Savage Master is their ability to take a rather simple idea, embellish it and create an intricate and anthemic piece of music from a very primal core. This formula has served well across the entire metal spectrum for many decades and will never fail bands who can tame the beast with passionate playing and convincing attitude. Savage Master are a superb example of this. The production allows the thundering bass sounds to come through the rather sharp guitars, while the drums favour the cymbals which adds to that convincing 80s sound, which doesn’t feel dry or compressed. The cover art features a really cool photo of the band, though I must admit I favour drawn / painted art (the bands discography features many wicked examples), this does look damned cool too. Another interesting asset to their sound is the emotional dexterity, best showcased on “Rain Of Tears” which has an almost melancholy side that progresses into a triumphant march very naturally. Rather than a soppy ballad, we go for a harrowing cry into the dark that is empowered and epic.

Each song in itself is usually rather snappy, self-contained and enjoyable. But listened in tandem as an entire body of work, there is an abundance of feeling on this record that feels truly glorious to behold as the molten blend of classic influences drives us headlong into a sonic barrage of hefty riffs, tasteful drumming and spectral singing that never falters in delivering something familiar yet unique enough to stand on its own two feet. Vicious and noisy, this feels like the band continue to hit hard across the board, there is a natural loudness to their sound which doesn’t feel like studio trickery but that of musicians who feel confident and passionate laying down their tracks. This fervent delivery is something one cannot fake, especially live, but here we witness genuine musical skill and execution from the entire band. The fiery new opus from this five-piece neither overshadows nor abandons their marvellous previous works, but equally does not rely on their reputation to churn out the same product. This is a really valuable new angle of crushing heavy metal from Savage Master that has a somewhat more mystical sound yet retaining all of that lively and spirited attack.

Savage Master are a consistent force in true heavy metal, never straying from their sound nor that or their sonic forebears while also not treading water. Another stride forward with some of the bands finest material to date, legions of metallic traditionalist, heed the call to battle and delve into the mysteries of the Savage Master coven.

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