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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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