SAVAGE MESSIAH
"Insurrection Rising"

(Candlelight)

01. Insurrection Rising
02. Corruption X
03. In the Absence of Liberty
04. The Serpent Tongue of Divinity
05. Vigil of the Navigator
06. Enemy Image (Dehumanization)
07. Silent Empire
08. The Nihilist Machine
09. He Who Laughs Last

RATING: 7.5/10

Word has it that the U.K.'s SAVAGE MESSIAH kicked up some dust in its native country with the release of debut album "Spitting Venom" on its own imprint, SMR Productions. Candlelight Records took notice, signed the lads, and released the follow up, "Insurrection Rising", a shiny slice of thrash and classic metal served up with a song-centric focus.

Rather than boarding the old school thrash train that is all the rage among the cherubs, SAVAGE MESSIAH opt for a style that is decidedly more modern and traditionally metal, yet still resolutely thrash-based. That said, the fellows do unashamedly pay tribute to their idols, as most will attest after hearing the numerous nods to TESTAMENT lighting strikes, such as "Enemy Image (Dehumanization)" and the title track. In fact, the approach owes its biggest debt to the Bay Area titans, even during those moments when it comes off like SUSPERIA doing TESTAMENT (e.g. the ass-kickin' and memorable "The Nihilist Machine") or served up with a side of DEATH ANGEL ("He Who Laughs Last").

The twist comes in the way of the extra emphasis on melody during the choruses of several tracks, almost all of which are delivered with a Halford-esque background scream to go with lead guitarist Dave Silver's mid-range Mustaine-meets-Chuck Billy (the singing/tuneful side) vocals. And for the most part it works, although one can hear a wee bit of room for improvement on songs like "In Absence of Liberty", which features an effective slow-build and elegant solo section, just not the strongest chorus. The backing growl on "The Serpent Tongue of Divinity" is a tad on the weak side too. But "Silent Empire" succeeds precisely for its melodic accentuation, which in this case is matched to serene twin leads, light picking, ferocious riffing, and classy soloing (yes, all in one song), this time in a manner that vaguely recalls MEGADETH's most accessible material (including Silver's vocals), yet that also points to a degree of uniqueness in the still-developing SAVAGE MESSIAH sound.

Aside from the picayune songwriting bitches and the fact that the Chris Tsangarides/Scott Atkins production/mix is almost antiseptic to a fault, "Insurrection Rising" is a mighty fine chunk of metal. The future looks bright for SAVAGE MESSIAH and folks should find solace in knowing that another young group of up-and-comers is focusing on the heavy metal fundamentals amidst this throng of breakdown-happy down-tuners.

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