By all accounts it’d seem Louisville, Kentucky occult heavy metal band Savage Master formed by chance, a mythological… well, 80’s supernatural horror film-worthy meeting of guitarist and singer on Hallow’s Eve circa 2013 as they’d found a shared appreciation of the camp shared between classic horror and true heavy metal. As if primed for a time machine headed for the era of Satanic panic the band would actually get it absolutely right from the start, hitting their first swings for a sound that’d undeniably resembled Cirith Ungol from the Satanic speed metal perspective. Would anyone have noticed them if lead vocalist Stacey Savage wasn’t a Bitch-lookin’ dominatrix of sorts leading a team of four slightly more fashionable Mentors? Yeah actually that first record (‘Mask of the Devil, 2014) was that good, and they’ve only improved with each of their full-lengths since — ‘Myth, Magic & Steel’ is notably Savage Master‘s most ‘live in studio’ feeling album thus far and that presence goes a long way towards reaching a sound that is now more their own here on this third LP.
Anytime a traditional heavy metal band features a female vocalist and the riffs are hot folks line up to namedrop all of the 3-4 bands they know: Acid, Girlschool, Chastain, Warlock etc. and no doubt that early-to-mid 80’s feeling is the right one but these acts aren’t necessarily what Savage Master tries to be beyond a larger-than-life stage presence; Savage‘s phrasing remains in the realm of classic United States heavy metal underground vocalists but ventures towards what I’d consider a slight Wendy O. Williams drawl here and there eh, a punkish flatness emphasized by the production. This adds some considerable true heavy metal character to ‘Myth, Magic & Steel’ and thankfully the compositions back this up with rock-heavy songs running the gamut from Brocas Helm style jamming (“The Owl”) to blood-hurling ‘Heavy Metal Maniac’ worthy speed metal while leaving behind some of that epic ‘Frost and Fire’ eccentricity. They’re going for a broader range of melodies and trad metal hooks this time and some of it works wonders for Savage Master‘s raucous high-energy performances and a few songs ring a bit flat when considering the full listening experience.
Who hasn’t been won over by a nigh flawless Side A? I mean if it wasn’t for the bland whip of “Fire in the Night” bunging up the flow I’d be pouring over what a good time ‘Myth, Magic & Steel’ is right from the start. Let’s not go full on Dokken just yet. “The Owl” is a major highlight for my taste and the first song to really hit the right bell as I realized this was not a simple iteration of the last album (‘With Whips and Chains‘, 2016); The bass runs and ‘Into Battle’ flourishes on this song were intensely nostalgic for me and reason enough to give ‘Myth, Magic & Steel’ countless listens over the last several months. “Crystal Gazer” comes quick afterwards and was the song that’d dug its blade hardest into my skull before stabbing again on “High Priestess” thanks to fine lead work and some of my favorite vocal work on the album. The only lowlight here besides “Fire in the Night” is the go-nowhere jog of “Far Beyond the Grave”, the rest of the album is a good show overall for Savage Master.
There isn’t that much more to dig up at this point. If you’ve got some love for 80’s heavy metal, specifically the traditional stuff from the United States, you’re going to get the right hookup from Savage Master on this album. Without any nostalgia or studied reference the barroom sized production and never ‘perfect’ rock vocals might throw some off but ‘Myth, Magic & Steel’ will hit exactly the right folks within a song or two. I’d suggest “The Owl”, “Crystal Gazer” and “Devil’s Ecstasy” in preview.
Moderately high recommendation. 3.5/5.0
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