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Savage Messiah: Plague of Conscience

Album Notes

Let's not beat around the bush now: after showing much promise on a raw but righteously motivated, self-released EP in 2007, and earning a record deal from respected Candlelight Records as a result, London, England's Savage Messiah largely failed to deliver the goods on 2009's Insurrection Rising LP. A lateral move to Earache ensued and the third Savage Messiah product, Plague of Conscience, was simply given away several months ahead of its early 2012 street date -- for free!!!??? Don't get us wrong, we thank you very much for the charitable attitude and can only applaud such an unconventional, forward-thinking marketing plan, but the stench of desperation was still impossible to ignore -- at least until a fair listen replaced it with the sweet perfume of success. Turns out added pressure was exactly what the members of SM required to clean up their act, and replace patchy songwriting and inconsistent execution with a finely honed set of melodic modern thrash songs balanced on the knife's edge between aggression and finesse. Yes, eyebrows may rise heavenward every time singer/guitarist Dave Silver unsuccessfully attempts to scale the piercing pitch-heights of Ripper Owens, but his seemingly endless arsenal of blistering leads and sinuous harmonies (played in tandem with second guitarist Tom Draper) salvage many a tune and silence all complaints on particularly strong efforts like the title track, "Carnival of Souls," and "Architects of Fear." And while other imperfections can be found in the uncommonly slowpoke "In Thought Alone" (which simply never takes off) and "Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt" (which sounds like a poor Savatage imitation), Plague of Conscience shows so much improvement over the preceding Insurrection Rising that one has to give Savage Messiah their due, even while wondering whether they'll keep up the good word next time out (or actually sell a single copy of this freebie record). ~ Eduardo Rivadavia


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