Plague of Conscience
British melodic heavy metallers Savage Messiah certainly generated themselves some welcome publicity when they announced they'd be giving their new album 'Plague of Conscience' away for the price of your e-mail address just a couple of weeks ago, allowing their fans to taste the album prior to its official January 2012 release, ahead of the major press outlets and without resorting to piracy either. The move is nothing new (labelmates Gama Bomb did the same thing in November 2009 for 'Tales From the Grave in Space') but its still bold to risk your album sales for free promotion and hope of added merch sales.
The promotion is something Savage Messiah could do with. They possess the same melodic metal abilities as the likes of Bullet For My Valentine, Trivium, etc. while maintain a slight thrash leaning that beefs them up enough to distinguish them from the pack. It owes more to Megadeth, Testament, and contemporaries like Evile musically than the more mainstream acts, and this gives them a good platform to work from. Unfortunately, 'Plague of Conscience' doesn't quite exploit the potential shown by the band. The groundwork was there on previous albums 'Spitting Venom' and 'Insurrection Rising', and despite its best efforts, I don't feel 'Plague of Conscience' goes far enough. There's nothing much wrong with the songs, with some pretty enjoyable numbers like 'Carnival of Souls' and 'All Seeing I', and the guitarists are certainly on fire during the solo sections, but ultimately its all a bit too samey for the first nine tracks, as good as the tracks are in terms of quality.
It takes right up until the final song, 'The Mask of Anarchy', for Savage Messiah to truly spread their wings and attempt something different, even if its fairly indifferent within metal circles. At 8:37 in length, it has plenty of time to breathe and develop, starting as an acoustic ballad before shifting into heavy mode, back to acoustic, and then heavy again with some more impressive noodling. For me its by far the best track on the album, and leaves me questioning why they left such an approach late?
'Plague of Conscience' is certainly more palatable than the majority of the radio friendly hard rock/metal frontline (although that's not too difficult in itself) and they ought to be challenging them, putting themselves in the mixer and pushing onwards. Having not quite been swept up by thrash's brief renaissance, 'Plague...' for me represents an opportunity for Savage Messiah, with the right backing, to take the bull by the horns, and will certainly appeal to those looking to try something a little heavier and truer. But its not quite exceptional, and Savage Messiah may just want to take a few more risks in future to get ahead in this game.
Download 'Plague of Conscience' here (e-mail sign-up required)
Officially released on Monday 23rd January, 2012