Sacred Steel - The Bloodshed Summoning Review


By Aaron Bainbridge

Sacred Steel are a Power Metal outfit from Germany who mix elements of Thrash and that Classic Power Metal vibe to devastate their listener's auditory orifices (Those are your ears, just to clarify). They've been active since 1996, so they've certainly earned their stripes, 16 years of stripes to be exact.

They've been described as always polarizing their audience, and now they've recorded their 8th album, The Bloodshed Summoning, in Poland with the aid of the Bart Gabriel, they're raring and ready to go. But after a 3 year gap since their last album do they still kick ass as much as people think? Let's find out. The Bloodshed Summoning is out 16th February 2013, but I've got an advanced copy with a few bottles of Becks and a Playboy on my coffee table, so let's go! Actually, forget that last one.

Storm of Fire 1916

I was just about to take a sip of said beverage and look at said 'nonexistent' magazine until the first track kicked in. This one's a baby lion, playful and energetic, but poke it with a stick long enough and it'll go for your neck faster than David Cameron can say 'cuts'.


I'm kidding of course, but my words have meaning, the drumming from Mathias Straub (what a name, eh?) is solid, fast, repetitious and yet a very supportive underlying foundation which keeps this song going beautifully well. The guitar work is solid and powerful too, their chugging style has been even further highlighted by the little flicks they add onto each riff. Kudos here to both Jens Sonnenberg and Joanas Khalil, some real work has gone into this.

I didn't want to make this comparison, but I can't help it: Gerrit P. Mutz sounds like Bruce Dickinson on some form of performance enhancing drug. His voice is elegantly brought across and suits the 'Power Metal' style these guys are channeling; but it's so powerful as well, a real compliment to their music. So far I'm very impressed.

No God / No Religion

There's some lovely tunes starting this song off. You can hear the ever-powerful chugging in the background overlaid with this beautiful, dare I say, almost depressing, melodic tune. Don't worry though, within about 15 seconds I was treated to a nice nuclear explosion in the form of where the song was actually going. The guitar work once again is unrelenting and undying: it's been paced out and hits all the sweet spots, it's perfectly in synchronization with the bass and drums, brooding , heavy, and a little thrashy with some impactful lyrics to boot. Well done lads! The vocals are a treat too; I was really impressed with this one. More I say, more!


When The Siren calls

Has anyone ever noticed pigeons always bob their heads? I know, I'm 21 and just realized the other day. Seriously, that must cause some major communication problems for them and their pigeon friends; they all just nod their heads to everything.


Think of financial situations;
"Well Mr Breadcrumb, we're approving your loan, are there any problems or questions you need to voice before we finish?"

"NO"

See he said no, but probably nodded too...worlds of difficulty right there my friends.

I digress. This song for me started to feel slightly generic compared to what I've already heard. I loved the siren sound at the start, it really gave the song an ambient feeling to go with the title. And to be fair, the drums, guitars, bass and most prominently, the vocals are all well delivered. It's powerful and fast, with that feeling you'd get from the like of White Wizzard or even Iron Maiden, but it just feels a little bland compared to the other two. I really like the vocals on this one though, so I'm still enamored regardless; I can really hear that there's been a lot of effort gone into what they're doing.

The Darkness of Angels

There’s a lot of religious sub-text here, and it doesn’t disappoint musically or lyrically. They've pulled it up a notch for this one, it's faster and more chaotic, the vocals are harmonized beautifully and everyone's really working together; it's heavy-hitting as usual and the burst of solo-work that's been added in from both Jens and Joanas is worthy of merit.


Mid-way through the song, everything slows down and becomes a bit more chuggy and delivered with more force; there's some serious galloping going on, then it picks it back up again while still maintaining that 'feel' they've established with their previous 3 songs.

You know what I mean, right? THE FEEL.

The Bloodshed Summoning

I was actually waiting for something like this, a slower more brooding song, the opening is a gorgeous acoustic piece and it connects effectively into the main portion of the music. The lyrics, while once again hinting to a more religious angle, come across as what you'd actually expect from a Fantasy Metal band: I really enjoy the delivery, and I just get the feeling Gerrit should be singing about dragons. The drumming is well paced, I really have to hand it to Mr Straub, he's doesn't miss a beat; the double bass here is a real pleasure to listen to.


What a tasty end to a song too! Gerrit really turns it up to 11 and comes out with seriously smooth vocals towards the last portion of the song. This song is worthy of being the flagship for the album!

Under the Banner of Blasphemy

Another fast and brutal track, the guitars on this one really got me hooked. They keep the tempo going, while the drums branch into complexity on their own; I love it when bands do this, it's slightly reminiscent of some Melo-Death bands like
Dethklok and Devildriver. The little complex flicks at the end of riffs really bring out some melody, while still remaining powerful and unrelenting.

I was a little disappointed though, mainly because the song only lasted a mere 2:30; however I feel there was enough content involved to stop it falling short of satisfaction.

Black Towers

The bass comes through really nicely here right from the start, it paces out the riffs well and remains a solid support well into the song, major kudos to Kai Schindelar here, I'm loving his work here. The whole thing is brutal in the way it's played out, it keeps their fast, over-the-top at times style of metal going strong but breaks up into separate pieces and becomes more complex. The vocals are as usual, powerful and come at you like a bullet through the skull, which I'm sure you'll agree, is awesome.


Crypts of the Fallen

One thing I'm noticing is how passionate Gerrit P Mutz can get, I've listened to a fair amount of Thrash and Power Metal but I've never came across someone as passionate as this man. His voice is seriously well crafted; whether this is a natural talent, the result of training or even both, I'm really in admiration of what he can do with his vocal chords.

The guitar work that's gone into this song is worthy of a second listen, it's galloping and chuggy, just what you'd expect, but both Jens and Joanas really work well together and more aggressive inclusion of the bass is just great, also.

YOU ADDED COWBELL, I LOVE COWBELL, IT'S AW...moving on.

The Night They Came to Kill

The Night They Came to Kill is a powerhouse from the get go: powered once again by chugging riffage, and some nice solo work over the top.
I'm really starting to enjoy this band more and more as I go, the lyrics are fueled with anger and passion, each song has a topic and they're not afraid to scream it - with a voice or a guitar!

I do however, find this song slightly lackluster compared to their previous songs, it bleeds together a little and in parts I felt a little underwhelmed, but there's some good solo work gone into it, the vocals are raw and the drumming is constant and immovable. 

Join The Congregation/Journey Into Purgatory

An 18 second intro into another song? Good. I like moves like that, it shows a band is taking their music and their audience seriously and also often gives a bit of a proggy feel to the music. Which is exactly what it's done with Journey Into Purgatory.

The prog influence is immediately obvious:, it's still thrashy Power Metal of course, but there's more development going on. The guitars are more complex, the drumming more varied and Gerrit's voice goes everywhere, and not in a bad way either.

Venturing into the 7 minute mark I'm still thoroughly impressed with this one, it's a real gem of a song and deserves more than one listen through. The solos are well thought out, and the whole thing is powerful but dexterous, even the bass comes through more to show off its stripes. I love it!

Doomed To Eternal Hell/Perversion Of The Scriptures (Bonus Track)

Another long, melodious intro to a separate song that’s done rather well; Doomed To Eternal Hell is the perfect start and introduction to Perversion Of The Scriptures, which is might I add probably one of the best bonus tracks I've heard on an album since Dethklok released Hatredcopter. It's so fast and full of force that I almost choked on my beer, the drums are a pleasure to listen to, the guitars are tight and strong and overall the whole song is just well done, seconds please!

Unbinding The Chains

"This is the end of your world!"
When I heard that I knew I wouldn't be let down. Although this song sticks to its guns with what the band is all about, there are some differences: the pacing gets mixed up a lot, and those thrashy guitars come through less and more emphasis is put on Gerrit leading the song to its end. This actually gives the song a more unique standing compared to what I've seen thus far. Mid-way the song slows it down and things get ambient - and almost proggy - but they soon kick it back up to 11, leaving your face hanging off your jaw, half submerged in your cup of Kenco...or Nescafe, I don't fucking care.

Conclusion

There's one more bonus track th
ey've added which I'll leave for the fans to discover themselves, but I'm a gentleman of sorts, so I'll give you a hint.

It's a cover and it involves some grave robbing.

I've been observing the album artwork while listening along (aforementioned playboy was confiscated by a very angry other half). In my observations, while nursing my now bruised forehead, I've noticed not only does the whole image kick some serious ass, but they've added a little bordered comic-book-style square in the top left hand corner with the album number hash-tagged and the year of release highlighted. Needless to say it's an impressive display of artwork, I love the Graphic Art style they've gone for and it really suits this next song.

Now then, what can I say about these guys? First of all, they're sculpted, I don't mean some shitty potato sculpture you did when you were 9, I'm talking Mt Rushmore standards; you can really tell these guys have been going since 1996, they're thrashy, powerful and take elements from other genres and make them their own so skillfully.

Gerrit P Munz is a fantastic vocalist, he's powerful and delivers his lyrics with dexterity and passion, he reminds me heavily of Bruce Dickinson - but more ballsy. Kai Schindelar is a great bassist too and he's added some really strong, supportive bass licks to the album as a whole. Both Jens and Joanas are a terrific duo, mixing their guitar work adeptly and producing some gorgeous solos, as well as power galopping riffs of doom. Finally Mathias Straub is a drumming machine; he never misses a beat and really keeps everything going smoothly!

Overall this new album is nothing to take lightly, it's a seriously good example of what these men are capable of. They really deserve recognition for it. And although I felt some songs fell victim to the 'Generic Goblin' a couple of times, the content they've produced is seriously worthy of praise, keep it powerful gentlemen!

Devil Horn Rating (Out of Five) \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Sacred Steel circa 1998

Comments