First review of HANDS OF FATE is here!
Sometimes a three-year wait for an album can feel either long or quick. It all depends on the band and the album. In this case, with Savage Messiah being one of my favourite bands, and being over three and a half years since The Fateful Dark came out in March 2014, the wait for their new album seemed to feel like an eternity, but the reasons behind the wait are understandable. Since The Fateful Dark, the band went through a couple of lineup changes with the departures of lead guitarist Joff Bailey and bassist Stefano Selvatico, and the additions of new bassist Mira Slama and new lead guitarist Sam S Junior.
At the same time though, the band left Earache Records, and as a result, had to come up with the money to cover the studio cost because they funded the album recording themselves. After that, the band were shopping the album to labels and looking for the right deal. As we sit here now, the band are now at a new label home with Century Media Records and they are finally ready to release their long-awaited fourth studio album Hands Of Fate in October, which I and all the other fans around the globe are looking forward to. I need to say this though. Before I even heard a single note from the new album, every time I listen to The Fateful Dark, I kept thinking to myself: "How are they going to top this one?", because ever since Insurrection Rising, the quality of the songwriting always increased, and I believe that The Fateful Dark features Savage Messiah at their songwriting peak with songs like "Iconocaust", "Zero Hour", "Live As One Already Dead", "Cross Of Babylon" and "Scavengers Of Mercy" just to name a few. To this day, that record remains untouchable.
The first thing about the album that's worth noting is that the band have let off on the throttle a bit in terms of the thrash, but they haven't dialed back on heaviness and melody. There's less thrash and more straightforward riff-driven metal, but fear not because there are a couple of faster moments, but not in the vein of "The Accuser" and "Hammered Down". The title track kicks things off with a moody clean intro that quickly transitions into a catchy riff and leads into an anthemic chorus. This track, along with "Lay Down Your Arms", "Fearless", "The Crucible" and "Out Of Time", showcases the band's prowess at writing songs in the vein of textbook heavy metal with simple but potent heavy, catchy riffs and melodies. "Lay Down Your Arms" resembles "The Fateful Dark" a bit with its stomping riff attack and soaring chorus. When this track is played live, there will be not one head remaining still or one fist resisting to punch the air.
The guitar interplay between Silver and Junior is undeniably excellent. Not only do they unleash some incredible riffs, but also big, grand harmonies and melodies and some tasty solos. The band never fail to deliver on the huge epic choruses. Many of these are designed for arenas and stadiums. Some examples of this would be "Wing & A Prayer", "Solar Corona", "Last Confession" and "The Crucible". Silver possesses a unique vocal combination of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson and James Hetfield, providing an astounding melodic performance while incorporating great gritty undertones.
"Last Confession" is where things begin to slow down.....but not for long. Starting off with a huge melodic intro, it moves into an acoustical verse and explodes into a bombastic sing-along chorus. As we arrive at the middle point of the song, things get faster with riffage in the style of the classic speed metal chug, making this section perfect for a pit. This is one of the more dynamic tracks on the record. "Eat Your Heart Out" and "Blood Red Road" are where we get our thrash fix with this album. These are just a couple of areas where Andrea Gorio proves once again why he is the definitive drummer for Savage Messiah. With incredible versatility in his arsenal, he has no issue in finding the perfect part to compliment each section. He and Mira Slama provide a great deal of thunder to Silver and Junior's riffs. Slama gets a moment in the spotlight on "The Crucible" with a gritty bass intro.
There might not be a great deal of variety on Hands Of Fate compared to The Fateful Dark and Plague Of Conscience, but there's still many moments of brilliance making their presence known. The album has potential to reach a wider audience with the simpler approach with the songs. While this move might receive some mixed reactions, this is a move I'm on board with because many more people should know about Savage Messiah and I certainly hope Hands Of Fate elevates their level of recognition to new heights and takes them to bigger places. I certainly hope they can come to Canada soon!
Highs: Solid songwriting, huge hooks and incredible vocals
Lows: A little less variety to be found
Final Rating: 9/10
Written by Alex Stojanovic