Remarkably, Melbourne metallers Nothing Sacred have been around in some form or another for nearly forty years, on and off, yet this is only the band’s second full-length album. Starting out and known primarily as a thrash/speed metal band, the outfit, which still harbours two original members in bassist Karl Lean and Sham Littleman on drums, whilst still driving the needle into the red occasionally, settle now for a slightly reined-in, intelligent metal style more aligned with latter day Metal Church than the more aggressive offerings of other thrash survivors like Testament or Exodus.
Judas Priest at their most aggressive is also an ever-present influence, especially on opening thrasher Final Crime and the mightily impressive penultimate track, Oracle. But this is more of a ‘feel’ thing rather than downright sonic plagiarism; These guys, as befits an outfit with bags of experience, actually have a sound that’s pretty much all their own. Much of this comes down to the impressive vocal presence of singer James Davies; the man offers serious chops in the vocal department, as much at home on the heavy stuff as he is on the bluesily Sabbathian Virus, which also features some nice – and pleasingly audible – bass support from Lean.
In fact, if Davies is one of the stars of the album, then so is the superb production, which offers the listener full opportunity to hear what everybody is contributing, and polishes the resultant metallic roar to a high gloss sheen. It’s rare to hear such an impressive sound on an ‘indie’ production, and whoever did the knob twiddling here – sadly uncredited on my review copy – deserves at least a couple of bonus slabs of Melbourne Bitter from the band for making them sound like serious contenders.
Of course, the old adage that you can’t polish a turd is true; the fact remains that no matter how much studio trickery is used, if the songs suck they suck – and luckily there’s no evidence that Nothing Sacred suffer from that affliction on No Gods; The band aren’t breaking any new ground with this record, of course, but as purveyors of solid, at times superb melodic metal like First World Problems, where guitarists George Larin and Stu Bedford frank their credentials as a guitar partnership of high value, they’ve emerged as one of the best we’ve heard around these parts in quite a while. Well worth a listen.
No Gods releases on July 16th.