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Savage Messiah – Hybrid of (British) Steel

By: David E. Gehlke

Thrash has become so ridiculously stupid and banal (especially in North America) that anyone with a handle on technicality and high-gloss production should be hoisted upon the shoulders of sweaty punters. Our long-standing beef with retro thrash is the harbinger of this notion, and while ignoring the endless swath of ill-timed thrash bands is next to impossible to do, it does make the prospect of bands like the U.K.’s Savage Messiah all the more enticing.

Formed in 2007 by singer/guitarist David Silver, the band’s stock grew right off the bat thanks to their Testament-to-the-hilt brand of thrash, further amplified by Silver’s marvelous clean vocal approach (note: clean singing in thrash is always a sure-fire winner) and guitar pyrotechnics. After releasing 2009’s
Insurrection Rising, the band jumped to Earache Records for the release of their new Plague of Conscious, an album that the band gave away for free for its European release last November. A bold move for sure, but for a band trying to gain some footing in the ever-crowded metal scene, it very well could pay off. That topic and much more was on the agenda when we got a hold of Silver via email…

Blistering.com: First off, what prompted you to jump from Candlelight onto Earache?

David Silver:
The answer to this question cannot be the most scientific, but we simply looked at what the other Earache bands where achieving and felt that that was more in line with our own personal ambitions and what we're trying to achieve as a band. We've always had the self-belief in the band, but we reached a certain point where it became obvious that we needed to surround ourselves with people who shared that same belief in order to progress, and fortunately for us, Earache liked us and we did the deal!

Blistering.com: As a young band still learning the ropes, what have you learned from the process of switching labels?

That you have to be prepared to take risks, simple as that. We took a big risk in changing labels, because in order to approach other labels we had to be a free agent, so we effectively left the last label and became unsigned again, had we not been able to secure a new deal so quickly it's logical to assume that for all intents and purposes the band would have been finished. As they say though, "fortune favors the brave" and that is definitely applicable in this case…we took the plunge and it was the best decision we could have made at the time.

Blistering.com: You worked with Chris Tsangarides [Judas Priest, Anvil] on Insurrection Rising. What were some of the things you took away from that experience? Better yet, were you able to apply them to Plague of Conscious?

Chris is a great guy, a total gentleman, and he has some incredible rock n' roll stories. In terms of production, his CV speaks for itself. We brought in Scott Atkins to re-mix the last record, and we got on really well and so this time we decided to do the whole record together. Working with Scott is great, he's a meticulous guy and he knows what he wants out of a performance which is great for a young band, because he really drills in the idea of objective thinking and hard work.

Blistering.com: Being that you're on the same label as Evile and hail from the same country, comparisons are inevitable. What would you say to someone that tried to compare you to them?

I don't have a problem with "inevitable comparison" the only thing that I do object to is the implication through comparison that there could be or should be any degree of rivalry between the two bands. From my perspective, I can see that we live in a world where the majority are spoon-fed on every level and that free thought is either oppressed through distraction or discouraged by a pre-determined mentality of needing to "belong" to something or as Krishnamurti called it "the trap of respectability.” So on that basis, if someone said to an Evile fan, "listen to Savage Messiah, they sound like Evile" and then subsequently they checked us out (safely armed with the knowledge that our music was probably acceptable to their general musical ideology), I would say "Enjoy". However a comparison is really not necessary as to the initiated, they will see that we're really quite different from each other. This was highlighted by the success of our recent tour together. We think Evile are a great band, and their new record is really excellent, and I think both acts are worthy of your attention.

Blistering.com: There seems to be this onus on being technically proficient with a lot of the new British thrash/classic metal bands like yourself, Evile, and Sylosis. Why do you think that is?

I'm not sure it's deliberate, rather just a necessity in order to make good metal music. A lot of the bands we've all taken influence from have always had that technical flair or displayed some degree of virtuosity, so we're all probably just emulating that on a subconscious level.

Blistering.com: You're coming in on the back-end of the thrash revival, so how concerned are you that you'll get lumped in with the short-lived wave of retro thrash bands?

Not very concerned. Again, it comes down to the ubiquitous psychological effects of living in a society composed of institutions and an understanding thereof. However we don't see ourselves as belonging to that particular movement so its rise or decline is somewhat inconsequential as far as I'm concerned. How other people choose to perceive the band is entirely up to them, and I'm a strong supporter of free-thinking.

Blistering.com: You've been the only mainstay in the band's lineup. How hard has it been to keep a stable band in place?

A band is an evolutionary entity, ideally it would be the first four guys that started jamming in the garage that go all the way to MSG. However 99 times out of 100 that's not how it works, and there are many reasons for that. You always want stability, but you need a degree of fortune as well.

Blistering.com: I saw the video of your explanation as to why you gave the new album away for free. Looking back (only after a few months), was it a good idea?

Bill Hicks said that "we all pay for life with death, so everything in between should be free" so from that point of view it definitely was a good idea. We had around 20K downloads in the first few weeks, which is more records than we would sell at this time, so yeah, it was a great way to spread our music.

Blistering.com: You made a point about how in the 80's, bands weren't giving away albums for free, but since you are a young band, it made sense. Is this something you'll pursue when you're a more experienced band with more albums under your belt?

No, we won't do it again, at least we have no plans to at this time!

Blistering.com: One of the cool things about the new album, and band in general is that you employ clean, discernable singing. It's somewhat of a lost art in thrash these days, so who did you take cues from when composing your vocals?

All the greats really, Dickinson, Halford, Tate, Matt Barlow, Eric Adams, Dio, Russell Allen, early Chris Cornell etc...all of these guys rolled into one and somewhere you get me!

Blistering.com: The odds are stacked against new bands like yourself in this day and age. What are some of your short-term goals?

Life is what you make of it. Our goals are simple, play heavy metal for the love of heavy metal and see where it takes us.

Blistering.com: Finally, what's on the agenda for the rest of 2012?

Tour! And then continue to tour. That's the plan!



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