Savage MasterFormed 3 years ago, Kentucky is the birthplace for this band, who caught my attention with their pre-debut album demo tracks. ‘With Whips and Chains’ is their second release and it is a big leap forward compared to their debut ‘Mask of the Devil’. With their debut, I was a little let down, it was a little subdued, however, this one kicks you where it hurts, it’s got much more passion and so much more bite, with a definite improvement in the song writing.

The imagery for the band is based upon the 1960s cult movie ‘Black Sunday’ (aka ‘The Mask of Satan’/ ‘Revenge of the Vampire’), portraying executioners under the command of a witch, and singer Stacy “Savage” Peak has some most interesting attire. Musically, the band site Acid (Belgium) and Bitch (US) as an influence, this is right on the money and complies well with their chosen imagery although musically it is not limited to just those two bands mentioned.

‘Light of the Moon’ starts the album proper and gallops into life with some pretty decent melodies and guitar work. There is a lot of reference to Satan and other darker personalities especially on ‘Dark Light of the Moon’. Whilst ‘Path of the Necromancer’ covers you with a thicker veil of wizardry inviting you into their word and giving back some nice music. The guitars could be a touch dirtier overall, but the songs feel fresher here, as does the stronger vocal performance. ‘Satan’s Crown’ sounds a lot more British with a touch of NWOBHM style with some palm muted guitars and you may recognize the track ‘Black Hooves’ as this was released as a single a little while back. My personal favorite is the faster closing track ‘Ready to Sin’ which includes some group vocals, for the style of music I like this as it raises your fist in the air, but the momentum, this really gets your fist and head pumping.

This album is a marked improvement, I for one cannot wait to see them at Germany’s Keep It True festival later this month and for those on mainland Europe there is a mini tour booked too. If you like your classic metal, a mix of US, German and British styles, this will whet your pallet. Their stage gear/appearance may be an acquired taste, but it’s not all performance art, the music has substance and the band deserve to go places with this album. It is nice to have creativity back, a little evil, a little perversion, this goes a long way in presenting the music which in itself keeps improving with each release.

(8/10 Paul Maddison)