Earache’s decision to make Savage Messiah’s 2011 album, Plague Of Conscience, available for free undoubtedly boosted the thrash quartet; some 50,000-plus downloads later, the band now have a platform to establish themselves in the upper echelons of the UK metal scene.
Their challenge now is to convert the curious into the committed. Happily, The Fateful Dark steps up boldly, retaining the core elements that made its predecessor an underground favourite – crunching Testament-esque riffing, deftly executed dual harmony leads in the Tipton/Downing tradition and bullish gang choruses – while adding a new-found sense of sophistication and melodic nous to the songwriting.
As with A7X’s Hail To The King, The Fateful Dark tilts unself-consciously towards the giants of our world. Zero Hour could fit seamlessly onto Megadeth’s Rust In Peace, Hellblazer comes on like a fast and frantic rewrite of Priest’s Exciter and the galloping Cross Of Babylon, exclusively previewed on the Hammer website in December, nods towards prime-time Maiden – while retaining a freshness, individuality and bite all its own.
It’s both a grand leap forward for the band and an impressive marker for their aspirant British metal peers in 2014.