Old school metallers SAVAGE MASTER are back with their second album With Whips and Chains, out now on High Roller/Skol Records. Continuing in very much the same vein as the debut Mask of the Devil, this one features nine tracks of the band’s patented NWOTHM (New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal) sound that would be right at home in 1981. I’ve mentioned before that their sound is very raw and completely UN-fucked with, and thankfully that hasn’t changed since the last release. At the same time you can hear a band that is growing more and more comfortable in its own skin, and that translates into the songs. And get a look at that fucking album cover, wouldja? Man, I hope this is on a T-shirt, and soon!
After a brief intro the galloping twin guitars of Adam Neal and Larry Myers carry “Dark Light of the Moon” on their backs right to your speakers, earbuds, or what-have-you. Drummer and newest member Zach Harris anchors the beat alongside his rhythm section partner in crime Brandon Brown and the two of them hold down the fort throughout. And when singer and resident fire demon Stacey Savage brings the heat the whole thing comes together in a massive fireball of energy and power. Title track “With Whips and Chains” is one of those tunes that hammers a railroad spike into your head so that all you can do is repeat the hook over and over throughout your day.
Once again the guitar riffs are incendiary on “Path of the Necromancer” and Savage barks out her venomous words with aplomb, while “Vengeance Is Steel” is arguably the most vintage-sounding song on the whole thing, making it one of my favorites. “Looking For a Sacrifice” employs that classic gang vocal on the hooks, something I always love, and the guitar solo is super-sweet. Meanwhile “Satan’s Crown” has to be the heaviest, crunchiest number, sounding not unlike something JUDAS PRIEST would have come up around the time of the Hell Bent For Leather album. Listen to it and you’ll see-I mean, hear what I’m sayin’.
“Burned At the Stake” has plenty of attitude and a more melodic arrangement in places. The record closes in fine fashion with a pair of powerhouses, “Black Hooves” and “Ready to Sin”. The former is without a doubt my number one because the hook is infectious while the latter is speed-driven with the whole group going nuts from start to finish. Sometimes it’s the last song that jumps out at me right away, and that is definitely the case here. But in reality all of the songs are noteworthy and this album is another step in the right direction for a very young band still somewhat finding its way. Know this, though…at this rate they’re gonna be bigger than even they themselves realize, and sooner rather than later.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Black Hooves”, “Vengeance Is Steel”, “Ready to Sin”, “Burned At the Stake”, “With Whips and Chains”