In the environment of the current Thrash revival, there seem to be two broad categories of bands: those who try very hard to capture the exact sound and spirit of 1980's Thrash, and those who build upon the 1980's foundation to create a newer, fresher sound. It is this latter category in which British act SAVAGE MESSIAH position themselves, as their debut full-length, “Insurrection Rising” is a heavy, pounding beast of a Thrash album.
This album is a delight for fans who enjoy infectious grooves and a bottom-heavy sound. Hooks are liberally included in each of the tracks, and the riffs among the most memorable to have been released in the past few years. Hearkening back to a time when Metal had to have both aggressiveness and melody, the riffs were composed to do more than provide enough distorted guitar to get the head banging. They also infect the senses, leading the brain in its own silent sing-along with the music, and giving a real Traditional Heavy Metal feel to this release. Punctuating this is a prominent, heavy bass sound that adds some muscle to the riffs. This is no “...And Justice For All,” with the bass tracks almost completely buried. SAVAGE MESSIAH clearly have no use for the tinny sound of some of the more raw Metal from the 1980's. There is plenty of bottom-end here, and, combined with frequent palm-muting of single string-riffs, produces a very chunky sound. Rhythm is the star of this album, and it has been executed very well.
This is not to say, though, that the leads are somehow substandard. This album may not contain the best, most prominent, most blistering solos, but the leads are skillfully done and nod more toward musicality than technicality. The solo from “Insurrection Rising” somehow manages to be both melodic and frantic, while the one on “In Absence Of Liberty” adds a downtempo, very Bluesy sound to a song that is otherwise unquestionably Metal. This integration of the components to produce something that is an eclectic mix of sounds demonstrates composition skill not found often on debut releases.
Stylistically, the band have achieved something rare with this album, and that is a true fusion of genres. It is not a collection of pieces that are one or the other. Rather, the listener will hear characteristics of both Thrash and Heavy Metal at the same time, particularly in some of the choruses. To have pulled off such skillful songwriting on a debut album is indeed impressive.
SAVAGE MESSIAH have innovated a venerable sound. Fans would be doing themselves a favor to check this out.
(Online February 11, 2010)