Masters of Disguise – The Savage and the Grace (Limb Music)Sunday, 1st March 2015
Paying homage to one of the earliest US speed metal groups on record Savage Grace, Masters of Disguise is a full blown original act from Germany, issuing their second full-length ironically titled The Savage and the Grace. Losing drummer Andreas ‘Neudi’ Neuderth in 2014 due to his larger role in Manilla Road, they haven’t missed a beat in his replacement Jens Gellner – recording these 11 songs as a four-piece while the band delivers another old school, harmony laced true metal affair.
The 2:13 “Judgement Day” opening instrumental sets the scene for “The Enforcer”, a heads down speed burner where Alexx Stahl vocally ascends to soaring highs while still being clear, commanding, and a little bit sadistic in his phrasing. The lead breaks from Kalli Coldsmith possess a mixture of quick hitting maneuvers and steady melodic phrasing in tune to the arrangement at hand – the persistent double bass in unison with the riffs recalling the way speed/thrash metal sounded fresh 30 years prior. Remember a time when metal while still being aggressive and energetic always had that musical showmanship and attention to hook retention for ideal headbanging or air instrumental simulation? Masters of Disguise certainly do – especially in terms of the epic tempo shifts on “Knutson II (Only a Mother’s) Love Is Forever”, the Omen meets early W.A.S.P. militant feel for “New Horizons” or the finger picking riff dance that caused Metallica to be champions of the 1983 scene on their Savage Grace cover for “Sins of the Damned”.
And the closing bonus cover of “Hammerhead” from Flotsam & Jetsam is the icing on an already very delicious cake, Mario Lang delivering the classic pumping Jason Newsted bass parts as if his life depends on it while the razor tight guitars and drums slam and Alexx channels his best interpretation of Eric A.K.’s persona. With front art straight out of the Savage Grace playbook (remember the S&M controversies all old school maniacs?), The Savage and the Grace is another 2015 entry of European metal acts who never forget the history of the genre, keeping cult groups alive through their works.