SACRED STEEL, another band whose albums I’ve already seen in the shop(s), but never really bothered to check them out. Well, I did listen once to “Bloodlust” (2000), their third album, but at the time there wasn’t much on it that convinced me to possibly purchase it. In any case, this German band has been around since 1997. In all those years, they’ve put out, including the newest release, eight studio albums, next to an EP, a single and a live album.
As said, the band has a new album out since the 15th of February 2013. This time Cruz Del Sur Music signed the band for it. Previously SACRED STEEL had been signed to Metal Blade Records, Massacre Records, etc… For opus no. 8, “The Bloodshed Summoning”, the band went to Poland to record it with Bart Gabriel (see also CRYSTAL VIPER, LONEWOLF, MORTICIAN, and more).
“The Bloodshed Summoning” contains fifteen tracks, including the MISFITS cover “Dig Up Her Bones”. Total playtime is a good 60 minutes. Maybe those fifteen tracks are a bit overkill, or rather, the compositions will need to be strong enough tip the balance in the right direction.
The first track, “Storm Of Fire 1916”, offers a direct, ferocious Thrash attack in vein of DESTRUCTION, KREATOR, LEGION OF THE DAMNED, etc.. with vicious vocals. The singing is cleaner and more melodic in the chorus, where the music comes pounding out of teh speakers. The last part still is harsh, but more Heavy Metal-oriented, sort of MANOWAR-like, with solo-ing over the vocals. However, all truly ends with a rapid Thrash piece. “No God No Religion” does not kick in instantly, prefers to create a bit of tension with the intro. And then *bam!*, midtempo Power/Thrash Metal with a solo. The intro theme returns, though. The real take-off is now: THRASH! You could compare it to GAMMA RAY, for example, only SACRED STEEL bring it with more power, more ferocity and sharper riffing. After the hymnic bridge, it’s shredding time in the chorus. All ends as it started, i.e. like in the intro. So far, I’m liking it.
“When The Siren Calls” begins with… exactly, a siren. Bomb alarm? Fire alarm? Midtempo Heavy/Power Metal breaks loose and it’s catchy, it must be said. Contrast is created in the verses (powerful music with clean vocals) and the chorus (clean and hoarse vocals). Musically the bass also gets its moment of glory before the solo. After that it’s back to business. A classic song, or rather, one by the book. It’s good, but it’s not among the best/better ones on this album. “The Darkness Of Angels” builds up its power to unleash it in a Thrash jacket with a touch of AC/DC. It’s a dark song and Gerrit sounds like Kai Hansen who has almost lost his voice. Sorry, can’t find another way to describe it at the moment. The chorus is, to be honest, boring: a repetition of “The darkest of angels…”. The guitar solo splits the song in two. Overall, the song isn’t that variable, and even the blastbeats can’t save it.
Luckily things improve with “The Bloodshed Summoning”. A clean intro, the music growing in power and volume, sounding a bit like SAVATAGE or DREAM THEATER, for example. And then it’s Metal time. The music sounds tight and while the vocals are still modest and clean, Gerrit did add a rough edge to them. Over the pounding bridge and into the Thrashy chorus, you can say the guys added variation. The lyrics are a bit lame, though. I like how around the middle the music slows down, becomes hymnic. However, it’s a dark, fierce and vile piece. The solo sort of represents what’s going on story-wise. After that it’s back to business as usual. All in all, a very decent song. “Under The Banner Of Blasphemy” is another Thrash song, KREATOR-style in terms of ferocity, including the vocals. Another highlight!
With “Black Towers” I again had to think a little of GAMMA RAY sounding more Thrashy, but mainly SENCIROW was the band I was reminded of the most. Sadly this band no longer exists. In any case, on offer is Power/Thrash Metal. The chorus is hymnic with clean singing. After the obligatory solo, full force is reinstated and the twin guitarwork shines through. Very well done! Time for a more classic kind of song then with “Crypts Of The Fallen”. In this Heavy/Power Metal track you’ll find a slow, hymnic chorus, but also a few wah-wah solos that, in my opinion, sound weird. Perhaps not the solos themselves, but more the timing, as they come in early. A rhythmic change occurs over halfway and then it’s all about rhythmic riffing (where you’d expect a solo). Drums follow suit with powerful interventions. SACRED STEEL is on the right track here.
“The Night They Came To Kill” starts with a solo and tension-building bursts, after which a mix of pounding drums and Power/Thrash riffing is thrown at your ears. Hymnic singing in the verses, a more regular flow in the chorus. There’s no real solo moment, as the solos are put in between. “Join The Congregation” is an acoustic interlude. Sounds a bit out of place after the preceding songs, but you could see it as the intro to “Journey Into Purgatory”, which ends after a good 7 and 1/2 minutes. Again on offer: Power/Thrash Metal with pounding verses and an expressive chorus that sounds dark and demonic with emotional, clean singing. Clean picking serves to make the atmosphere more real, backed by Metal for that dark feeling.
Another acoustic interlude is “Doomed To Eternal Hell”. But then the brutality and razorsharp riffs of “Perversions Of The Scripture” are let loose! Pounding, thundering drums fit perfectly for this powerball. The aggressive vocals round it off. This is one dangerous piece of Metal, so buckle up or run for your life. “Unbinding The Chains” is a midtempo Power/Thrash song with a melodic, hymnic chorus, that sounds a bit like repenting (by lack of a better term). It’s good, though I don’t consider this song a highlight. The MISFITS cover, Punky Rock ‘n’ Roll, is well done. Obviously it stands apart from the other songs and hence, it’s a bonus track.
I can’t compare to previous SACRED STEEL albums (as my knowledge is close to non-existent), but after several listens I have to admit that the overall majority of tracks on this album is indeed good enough to tip the scales in the right, positive direction. “The Bloodshed Summoning” turned out to be a pretty solid album and offers a nice mix of Heavy, Power and Thrash.
- Storm Of Fire 1916
- No God No Religion
- When The Siren Calls
- The Darkness Of Angels
- The Bloodshed Summoning
- Under The Banner Of Blasphemy
- Black Towers
- Crypts Of The Fallen
- The Night They Came To Kill
- Join The Congregation
- Journey Into Purgatory
- Doomed To Eternal Hell
- Perversions Of The Scripture
- Unbinding The Chains
- Dig Up Her Bones (MISFITS cover)
Gerrit P. Mutz – vocals
Jens Sonnenberg – guitar
Joanas Khalil – guitar
Kai Schindelar – bass
Mathias Straub – drums