Sacred Steel - The bloodshed summoning 4/5

Reviewed: 5-1-13





Tracklist:

1. Storm of fire 1916
2. No god/No religion
3. When the siren calls
4. The darkness of angels
5. The bloodshed summoning
6. Under the banner of blasphemy
7. Black towers
8. Crypts of the fallen
9. The night they came to kill
10. Join the congregation
11. Journey into purgatory
12. Doomed to eternal hell
13. Perversions of the scriptures
14. Unbinding the chains
15. Dig up her bones


The 8th full-length CD from Germany’s Sacred Steel delivers exactly what one would expect from these steadfast metallers. It is pure, unabashed and savage heavy metal steeped in the classic tropes of dark imagery. Imagine brash metal somewhere between Judas Priest at its most vicious and Slayer at their most melodic, and add in the utterly unique, recognizable, and compelling vocals of Gerrit Mutz and you have 'The bloodshed summoning'.

Sacred Steel released their first CD in 1997 (following Mutz displaying his memorable vocal style with Tragedy Divine) at the time when we were first feeling a resurgence of melodic metal in Europe. But while bands like Stratovarius, Hammerfall, and Helloween’s progeny were developing a “cleaner” sound, image, and feel, and burnishing their white hats, Sacred Steel delivered a nastier edge that offered the sinister appeal of black and death metal in its image, leather clad with sharp spikes, but with the music of traditional metal and vocals that were clear and understandable. Axes and Satan, railing against religion, war and swords, all became the band’s lyrical staples, and through 8 CDs, while some songs were greater than others, the formula didn’t really vary, and that includes this most recent CD.

While it’s hard to describe Mutz’s voice if you haven’t heard it, his general tone is an oddly majestic, smooth and epic motif that creates a lot of similar refrains, mixed with the occasional gruffer rasp or deathish growl. That doesn’t change on this CD, and you hear the entire spectrum that he covers. The band also covers the range of everything that fits into traditional heavy metal, from the raging, Slayer-like intensity of “Storm of fire 1916" that opens the CD, to “Crypts of the fallen” which instrumentally conjures up classic Candlemass in its style and structure.

As to where this CD fits in the hierarchy of the band’s consistent catalog, it doesn’t leap out as their greatest or their least, but a solid entry. Those who enjoy the band can confidently pick up this latest release, and those who weren’t enamored of them won’t find anything here to change their mind.



CRAIG




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