Sacred Steel - The slaughter prophecy 3/5

Reviewed: 3-8-02


1. The immortals curse
2. Slaughter prophecy
3. Sacred bloody steel
4. The rites of sacrifice
5. Raise the metal fist
6. Pagan heart
7. Faces of the antichrist
8. Lay me to my grave
9. Crush the holy, save the damned
10. Let the witches burn
11. Invocation of the nameless ones

I can't help enjoying this band, even if they offer little in the way of originality or deep thinking. I think part of it is that I view them in the background of metal's dark ages, when there wasn't a hint of metal released without death vocals, when "true metal" aphorisms and attitude only really existed on old Manowar CDs, and the only promise of new ones was when the metal kings would release their next work after 7 years. When I would have crawled for the barest hint of melodic heavy metal, and on my tongue if there was a hint of fantasy or swords to the lyrics, and would buy death metal CDs just for some metal feeling, even if I didn't really get into it. Obviously, things have changed blissfully since then (well, maybe not in the U.S., but in availability), but I still view something like this against that pallid backdrop, and I love it for it.

Sacred Steel is fairly simplistic and rife with nothing but the ultimate in heavy metal cliches, but Gerrit Mutz's vocals, while somewhat repetitive (reminding me in some ways as a European version of Cirith Ungol's Tim Bakker with the trademark wails), are fun, compelling, and catchy. The songwriting is almost similar to Exciter's "repeat Title 8x for chorus", but with a bit less homongeneity in the tempo. While the tales of witches, blood, axes and death are pure heavy metal cliche...I LIKE heavy metal cliche, and heavy metal cliches are anti-cliches to the non-metal world.

"The immortals curse" is a cool little spoken intro, probably from an old movie, about a witch swearing revenge upon her burners (I like intro's like this, it's the constant 1-2 minute meaningless sections that seem to pepper the beginning of most power metal CDs which are incredibly old), leading into the title track, with surprising vocals. For a second, I thought Gerritt had done a Testament 'Demonic' on us and suddenly lapsed into death metal vocals. But that's only for this song, and even throughout Gerritt's trademark wails come in to the very Exciter like chorus. One of the more complex songs is "Faces of the antichrist", with some really nice melodies, but most of it is very straight forward, hard-edged, aggressive and repetitive metal, but with riffs and vocals which, while not being anything magnificent, are damned catchy and fun to listen to. To me, when you combine that with such a pure metal attitude, you get something I really have fun listening to, though I can imagine some being a bit tired by this CD, especially if they've felt the band wear them thin at all in the past. I'd have to say it's also not quite as good as the excellent predecessor, 'Bloodlust'.




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