SAVAGE MASTER hails from Kentucky and they play a true old school form of metal. And by old school I mean raw. And by raw I mean completely and totally UN-fucked with. There are no fancy compressions, no studio trickery; this is metal, plain and simple. And the songs pretty much scream, “You don’t like it? Then get the fuck out!” every single one of them. Which is pretty cool in this day and age, dontcha think? I actually found it rather refreshing. There’s a hybrid punk/metal quality to all eight tracks on debut album Mask of the Devil (out now via Skol Records) that I rather enjoyed. The band refers to itself as NWOTHM (New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal), and I’ll co-sign on that no problem. That moniker also boasts SKULL FIST, NIGHT DEMON, ROCKA ROLLAS, AMULET, and more in its membership, and this group fits right in there.
As far as the songs go, Mask of the Devil opts for the short and sweet, get in/get out approach. As previously stated, it’s eight songs and 30 minutes of in-your-face metal. Vocalist Stacey Savage is a fire demon on each and every song, and guitarists Adam Neal and Larry Myers possess that ability to craft “Don’t fuck with me” riffs that will have a lot of fans begging for more. This is evident on opener “Blood on the Rose”, and as soon as Stacey’s raspy voice comes in it’s clear this band isn’t dicking around. Plus, the occult themes definitely lean more towards the Satanic, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find the band sacrificing virgins and/or goats on nights when the moon is full.
“The Mystifying Oracle” has some strong riffs going with Eric McManus’ drums and Brandon Brown’s bass, Savage‘s voice even hitting an 80’s New Wave squeal at times. “Mask of the Devil” is dark and sinister, moving ever so slowly towards its victims, looking to enslave everyone and anyone, while “The Ripper in Black” has some of the sharpest riffs this record has to offer, making it one of the album’s best. A ripping scream introduces “Kill Without Warning” and then it’s pretty much full-on carnage in Satan’s name for three minutes. The guitars, bass, and drums hit like the blade of a knife piercing flesh, spilling the blood everywhere. “Marry the Wolf” has a NWOBHM sound which automatically made it a favorite for this guy.
I wasn’t sure where “Altar of Lust” was going on my first listen which made it all the more intriguing. It starts out slow and moody, so of course I’m expecting it to take off at any minute, which it does at around 3:30 of a 5:10 song, making this the album’s longest. Some slick guitar work accentuates the “Hail Satan!” cries, which may have the horns raised high from some of you. Closer “Death Rides the Highway” is an exercise in speed, sounding like something forged in the fires of British steel mills 30 years ago. All in all, Mask of the Devil is a solid debut. Is SAVAGE MASTER a little rough around the edges? No question. But…they already have what it takes to be something special in the heavy metal landscape. And with a little polishing, they’ll be there before you know it.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Ripper in Black”, “Marry the Wolf”, “The Mystifying Oracle”, “Kill Without Warning”