Six albums in thirty-three years is hardly a prolific work rate – although Metallica seem to be trying hard to equal it – but East Midlands rockers Savage seem to going for quality rather than quantity when it comes to releasing albums. “Sons of Malice” is the band’s first release since 2000’s “Xtreme Machine” and is certainly an album that feels very ‘now’ but with a respectful nod to the band’s NWOBHM beginnings.
Indeed, the opening duo of ‘The Rage Within’ and ‘Black ‘n’ Blue’ do sound like they are from another age but with a suitably modern raw yet thick-sounding production. Not that this is a bad thing, as the former track leads with a riff that immediately puts you amongst the denim clad hordes of the band’s formative years and is probably as good, if not better, than anything that Saxon have come up with on their last few albums. The latter track is a blues workout that adds the right mood but will probably sound a little more rounded in the live setting, beer in hand and banging your head like it’s the only thing in the world that matters.
It isn’t all about looking back, though, as the mid-paced chug of the title track is the perfect backing for the angry lyrics that tackle the very-much-up-to-date subject of the fraudulent bankers and their morally corrupt business decisions. The heaviness that the band bring to that song is maintained throughout the rest of the album, with tracks like the muscular ‘Monkey on My Back’ and the bar-room swagger of ‘Blow’ proving that the band still have the musical chops to stand alongside many of their contemporaries, and in some cases do it more convincingly.
As an overall comment, it would be fair to say that Savage have stepped up and made an album that does everything that you would expect from a band with a history stretching back to the golden years of the early 1980s, but have done it with their 2012 heads on. It has big riffs, solid rhythms, catchy choruses and lead vocals that perfectly fit the melodic yet gruff musical style. If there is a criticism, it’s probably that the album is a couple of tracks too long – the world won’t be a worse place for not hearing ‘Choose Revolution’ more than once – but hopefully this is the start of a chapter for the band that will see more releases as good as this one being made.