Greece has given birth to many a fine band, like SUICIDAL ANGELS, FIREWIND, and my personal favorite, SUNBURST. They all vary in style and genre, which really makes me want to get over there and explore their metal scene. Well, add one more group to my list of greats with SABOTER, a Heavy/Power/Thrash Metal hybrid that really hit me right away at six o’clock this morning. Their full-length debut Mankind Is Damned (out now, Witches Brew) has a heavy 80’s influence which is 100% A-ok with me. It reminds me of a time when a band could say what they needed to say in eight tracks and 43 minutes, which is EXACTLY what these guys did.
Goddamn, as soon as opener and runaway favorite “Purifier” started I could tell I was in for a treat, especially when vocalist Antonis Vailas hits the first of his many high notes. This is a concept album about a dystopian world where good battles evil, and the usual suspects like politics and religion are present. The thing is, although the subject matter has been done a lot, Vailas sings his parts with such conviction it’s near impossible not to get sucked in by each chapter. The guitar riffs from Nick Markoutsakis and Chris Tsakiropoulos (rhythm and lead respectively) set these tunes ablaze, and the drums of Vaggelis Felonis coupled with George Kanelopoulos’ bass add some extra punch to the tracks as well.
“Assassins” is a highly charged mid-tempo number with a great melody and an energy that crackles all over the place, while the double-bass stomp of “Prevailing Dictators” is the perfect backdrop for Vailas to hit some positively insane notes, even sounding a bit like IRON MAIDEN’S Bruce Dickinson a few times. After the aforementioned first song, “Marching Death” is my next favorite. A 7:24 epic, this is one I think many will flock to in droves. An eerily quiet intro gives way to glorious riff madness and it’s just outstanding. And as far as “Hit the gas pedal” tracks go there’s “Ghost In the Machine”, housing an eight-cylinder turbocharged engine under its hood to go with the vocal gymnastics.
“Impaler” is another heavy-on-the-riffs affair with Vailas singing lower on the verses before letting ‘er rip on the hook. Then one of the best solos on the disc melts your face off for sure. Next up is “Sacred Catalyst” and if we’re being totally honest, this is the only weak link of the bunch. It’s not a bad song, just nowhere near as good as the others, and also a bit repetitive. Closer “Sands of Time” once again finds a way for all five members to shine over the span of six minutes, but it’s Vailas’ voice that steals the show, especially on the chorus.
A day ago I knew nothing, and I do mean NOTHING about SABOTER. But I sure as hell do now! The band combines all the best elements of power metal with a hearty dose of the traditional stuff grown in England, a dash of thrash, and a pinch of speed metal. I can hear everything from IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST to OVERKILL in their music (three of my all-time favorite bands!). Mankind Is Damned is an outstanding debut from a band everyone needs to watch for and add to their playlists immediately. Don’t be the last to know. You can grab the album HERE. I guarantee you’ll thank me.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Purifier”, “Marching Death”, “Ghost In the Machine”, “Impaler”