01. Storm of Fire 1916
02. No God/No Religion
03. When the Siren Calls
04. The Darkness of Angels
05. The Bloodshed Summoning
06. Under the Banner of Blasphemy
07. Black Towers
08. Crypts of the Fallen
09. The Night They Came to Kill
10. Join the Congregation
11. Journey into Purgatory
12. Doomed to Eternal Hell
13. Perversions of the Scriptures
14. Unbinding the Chains
15. Dig Up Her Bones (Misfits cover)
Sacred Steel are power metal band from (surprise, surprise) Germany. They have been active since the late 90′s, and have just released their eighth album, The Bloodshed Summoning, on the world. In true German power metal fashion, it’s a heavier album, based more on speed metal riffing and gruffer vocals than the typical European power metal trends of testicle-caught-in-a-vice vocals and cheesy melodies. Sacred Steel generally take a backseat to their peers like Rage, Accept, Blind Guardian, and Iron Savior, and on this album, it’s not a stretch to see why. While not a bad album, it’s not great either.
The Bloodshed Summoning doesn’t offer a whole lot to the listener. Their are riffs present but there isn’t anything that stands out, nothing to really make one bang their head. Their tone is good and meaty if a bit over-compressed, and the leads stand out clearly, but in terms of actual musical content, they don’t offer much. There are one or two good riffs scattered throughout, most notably on the bonus track “Perversion of the Scriptures” which unfortunately (considering that it’s the bonus track) is the best song on the record. Vocalist Gerrit Mutz has a decent growl on him, and he uses it well on the album, but when he moves to the higher register, his voice shows weakness. Compared with other singers in the same genre, try as he might, he just doesn’t hold up. The drumming is accomplished, sounding full although in terms of dynamic variety, there isn’t anything memorable to be found.
Sacred Steel implement a few thrash elements on this album, providing a more razor-edged feel. In fact it’s the songs that are more thrash influenced that are generally the better parts of the album. Mutz’s gruff voice works much better with that sound, and his growls sound right at home. The more power metal-esque songs are less interesting and more paint-by-numbers power metal, though the lead work does redeem them somewhat. The album closes with a Mistfits cover, which is only slightly above average. Again, there’s nothing special here, just a solid cover of a solid song, though Mutz does a better job with the higher pitched vocals here than anywhere else on the album. One other thing that works against the album is that it is overlong. Perhaps if it had been condensed into eight or nine songs instead of 13, Sacred Steel could have refined their material more effectively and ensured that it didn’t outstay its welcome.
Sacred Steel have produced some good works in their career, but this is not one of them. It’s not awful, it just feels almost entirely generic. There are a couple of good songs, but the weaker ones outnumber the good ones by at least 3:1. Germany is primarily a hotbed of power metal, and as such there are quite a few bands that have a similar sound to Sacred Steel that do it a lot better with more consistency. Huge fans of the German sound might want to give this a try, but for everyone else, move along and put on some Rage instead.