SAVAGE GRACE - Sign Of The Cross
May 3, 2023, a month ago
In the Eighties, this band straddled the line between traditional metal and burgeoning thrash, leaning towards the speed and aggression of the latter camp, without forsaking the endearing melodies and clean voiced lyrics of the former. Needless to say (satisfying neither divergent mentality) they sadly fell through the cracks. If you know nothing of the band, Master Of Disguise album is the place to start.
Now after decades of start-stop (in)activity, and a tell-all saga, sold exclusively online, guitarist Christian Logue (as the lone original member) has resurrected the moniker with a trio of young bucks. Apart from the title track (Yes please, MORE of that vintage, speedy guitar driven sound!), which is easily the best of the bunch, the current incarnation opts for a dolled up power metal sensibility. Sure, it would be great to hear some of the old tracks again, live, but not sure how many of those can be carried off, by this line-up. Elsewhere, only "Slave Of Desire" approaches the old school intensity/delivery, like the titular choice.
While quick mover "Barbarians At The Gate" screams out of the gate (literally), musically, I get more of a later day Helstar vibe. Even the more tame material contains a few searing chords, courtesy of Logue. Historical voiceovers introduce two of the songs. George HW Bush's '90 speech to the UN greets the modern heaviness of "Automoton" and an old TV interview with Polar explorer Adm. Byrd kicks off "Land Beyond The Walls", another dose of happy grooving.
High pitched (near falsetto) "Star Crossed Lovers" (where the titular phrase constitutes the major of the lyrical content), "Stealing My Heart Away" and Sunset Strip-ish "Rendezvous" show another side of the band. Bonus track, "Helsinki Nights" is a sex/drinking tale that sounds like it belongs on a Poison album. Kid you not! "Branded" equates love to a permanent scar. Heavy drums and short guitar burst within an otherwise pop construct.
For the first album in 37 years (just third overall), not sure this is what most expected/wanted. It's a fun, albeit schizophrenic (not sure what they want to portray/represent). Seriously, saw the promotional group photos and my first thought was Cold Lake: at times punishing speed, others commercialized pomp. Just keep thinking what could have been.