Release date: April 23, 2012
The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was a springboard from the disco and new wave trends of the late 70s, to set rock and roll back on its rightful path. While most casual NWOBHM fans may not recognize the name Savage, the diehards are well aware of the band’s significance and early impact.
While the band had its initial incarnation in 1976, it was not until 1979, that the heart of the band would come together to create the Savage fans would come to know. The powerhouse vocals of bassist Chris Bradley and the crisp, thick guitar work of Andy Dawson remain the foundation of the band to this day. The band’s new blood includes guitarist Kristian Bradley, and drummer Mark Nelson.
At some point for every band the hand of chance or fate must play card. For Savage it was the inclusion of two tracks, “Let It Loose” and “Dirty Money” on the Suspect records compilation, Scene of the Crime. A young Lars Ulrich, a huge fan of the NWOBHM scene, picked up the record while in London, and spread the disease upon his return to the states. The aggressive driving guitars of Savage so impressed the young lads of Metallica that they covered “Let It Loose”. The track would appear on the Savage’s 1983 debut, Loose and Lethal.
Through the intervening years the band released four more records, but like so many unknowingly influential bands, they themselves never quite took off. This spring, after a decade long hiatus, the guys are back with album number six, Sons of Malice.
While the youthful rawness may be gone on this record, but the maturity that Savage brings to the new material makes this their best effort yet. In fact the band makes no effort on Sons of Malice to try to retrace their steps or recapture the sound of their teenage inspired style. This is a band making edgy, modern hard rock, that is built on the classic foundations of their youth. Perhaps now they will finally get the recognition they deserve.
Chris Bradley’s voice feels and sounds arguably more potent than in his youth. From the very first riff of “The Rage Within” a familiar need to bang the head starts making the neck twitch. The drums and pulsing rhythms are propulsive and you’re sucked into the sonic vortex.
“Black and Blue” has a blusey vibe that harks back to some classic Whitesnake grooving. The title track has a pure classic hard rock feel. The guitars so sharp they could cut flesh. The crux of a great rock song is in the riff, and the guys hit a nice one here.
An ominous spaghetti western intro sets the stage for the next track, “The Hanging Tree”. Again the listener is hooked by a crisp rolling guitar riff and driving rhythm section.
“Monkey On My Back” begins with an 80s metal flavor, that reminds me of say Skid Row colliding with Van Halen. Great groove, and hooky chorus.
Though it starts with a decidedly slow rolling and melodic intro, the song soon sets up in that mid-tempo rumble that we already heard on the title track. While it’s a decent song, it’s repetitive and feels like filler.
“Blow” has a nice strolling guitar riff ala Thin Lizzy. The verse starts to feel like covered territory again, but the chorus saves it, and makes the trip worthwhile.
Eight tracks in and we get to one of the album’s most devastating beasts, “Waking The Dead”. The band manages to cull a little something from classic 70s hard rock in the vein of UFO, with some 80s flourishes, including some of that guitar riffing that young Mr. Ulrich craved so much.
Another great track is “Now” which picks the pace up and rumbles ahead like a freight train racing toward an unknown destination. Still the journey’s worth the trip. The solo is a tasty affair.
The formula continues on for a solid 13 tracks and nearly an hour of great new rock with a vintage feel. While there are times, as mentioned previously that the album gets a little bogged down in mid-tempo repetition, the overall value of the music, and the strength of the song writing make it an album worthy of spending time with. Vindication, they name is Savage!