Sacred Steel

Carnage Victory

Written by: PK on 01/12/2009 15:26:47

"Carnage Victory" is the seventh album to be released by German Heavy Metal outfit Sacred Steel, a band that on the face of it doesn’t appear to take itself too seriously, although that depends on how you interpret the description of the band line-up. Frontman Gerrit Philipp Mutz, for example, is charged with providing the listener with "Blasphemic Litanies and Siren Screams" while drummer Mathias Straub apparently gives us "Demonic Crossfire on Steel Coffins", which I took to mean that they sing and play the drums. They go on to state how fantastic it is that this record has finally found "…its way to the battlefields of the metal community" and that this album is "100% Sacred Steel but somehow different and more serious". It’s at this point it all starts to seem a little bit too Spinal Tap, and you do find yourself wondering if the guitarist will be telling us next that his amps go up to eleven as well…

Sacred Steel pride themselves on being purveyors of "Uncompromising True Heavy Metal" but this is not the first album which sees their music encompass other areas of the genre. Elements of speed and doom are to be found throughout, with the odd guttural vocal thrown in for good measure too. Bands such as Manowar and Judas Priest are cited as influences and this is evident from the very start of the album. The opening song "Charge Into Overkill" could almost be called a carbon copy of the Priest track "Painkiller", the opener from their 1990 album of the same name. From it's fast paced drumming inception through to the soaring Halford-esque vocals of Gerrit Mutz, the resemblance is striking. Now, having a sound that is similar to one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time is not a bad thing, but it is often the case on this album that Mutz’s vocals just don’t quite measure up. When trying to hit those high notes, he does not always sound convincing, and even in the lower register, his voice is just missing that extra bit which separates the great metal singers from the average ones.

However, this may be a slightly harsh indictment of Sacred Steel, because much of the material on "Carnage Victory" is actually very enjoyable. Impressive harmony guitar work and relentlessly fast rhythms are to be found throughout the album. Tracks like "Denial of Judas (Heaven Betrayed)" and particularly the slower song "Ceremonial Magician of the Left Hand Path" contain thumping riffs, and on these tracks the vocals of Mutz (who after a wobbly start seems to have given up on trying to be Rob Halford) are much more controlled and generally work well in the mix. The album gets more interesting and varied as it progresses, with a number of the better songs actually coming in the second half. Lyrically, "Sacred Steel" ticks every box too, with glorious battles, sorcery and magic, heavy metal itself and, in particular, religion all covered. I was unable to actually work out if their anti-religious sentiments were genuine, or if it was all done tongue-in-cheek, something that was starting to become a running theme with this band. I would like to think that the band wrote some of these songs with a grin on their faces, seeing as they put a grin on mine.

Having heard a couple of songs from their previous album, 2006’s "Hammer of Destruction" I was looking forward to seeing if "Carnage Victory" would stack up. It is an album that you need to be patient with, and if you are, then you will be rewarded. Solid musicianship abounds within this record, although if you were expecting epic metal guitar solos on every track you will be disappointed. At times, things are let down a little by the vocals and a slight lack of invention in certain songs, but overall "Sacred Steel" have produced a very respectable album. Who knows, maybe those amps really do go to eleven…


Download: Ceremonial Magician of the Left Hand Path, Denial of Judas (Heaven Betrayed), Metal Underground
For The Fans Of: Mercyful Fate, Onslaught, Manowar
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 23.10.2009
Massacre Records

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