London via Dundee (and Valhalla) metalheads Satan’s Empire are back with their second full-lengther, Hail The Empire. Should you care? Well, if you like well executed, epic true metal performed with grit and heart, then yes, you should. And even if you don’t you should give this album a bit of a spin to see how straight down the line heavy metal should be played.
Satan’s Empire are British to the core, yet every now and then the mask slips and they find themselves sounding a bit like Manowar circa Into Glory Ride. That’s a good thing, obviously, but for the most part the band’s music takes you back to the year 1982, and the music of names like Saxon and Cloven Hoof.
Secrets is a slow burner of epic pretension, and whilst it’s clear that Satan’s Empire’s champagne tastes were indulged with a beer budget as far as production is concerned, it really doesn’t matter, as the sounds they have conjured up here have a steely rawness and authenticity to them that is undeniably attractive. Rivers of Gehenna is rockier, and features some nice bass work from Wayne Hudson; it’s the sort of thing a band might have released as a single in the early eighties (only to reach number seventy three in the charts) with it’s whoah-oh-oh chants and neat chorus. It doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the material, stylistically, but even that fact fits right in with the ‘period charm’ of the record.
However, there’s a triumvirate of tracks towards the end of the album – Black, All Hallows Eve and Shadowmaker – that reek of undiluted heavy metal class. All Hallows Eve, in particular, with it’s Manowar-meets-Mercyful Fate moodiness is an absolute belter; Singer Derek Lyon gives his best performance on the record, backed by Magpie’s superb drumming (which really does sound like MF’s Kim Ruzz) and some more great bass work bubbling around in the background. Shadowmaker highlights the guitar partnership of Paul Lewis and Sandy McRitchie to good effect, but it’s the overall quality of song writing rather than individual performances that really gives Satan’s Empire the edge over these three tracks. At this level that most bands have the chops is usually a given – but not everyone has the knack for penning a memorable metal tune as good as these.
The Dissonance label is fast becoming a reliable source of quality British metal releases, and Satan’s Empire can certainly hold their own with the brightest and best that the label has to offer. Nice work!
Hail The Empire is out on March 13th.