Shatter Messiah - _Never to Play the Servant_
(Dockyard 1, 2006)
by: Jackie Smit (8 out of 10)
Traditional heavy metal -- and I'm talking the fist-pumping variety famously resurrected by Nevermore, and not the recycled Iron Maiden riff-o-ramas served up en masse these days -- has become something of a lost art of late. True, some have stepped up to the plate and gone on to attain some measure of success, but for the most part there are but a handful who can lay claim to delivering anything of great significance in this genre over the course of the last five years. With a pedigree boasting ex-members of Annihilator and (ironically) Nevermore, it could be argued that Shatter Messiah would almost be perennially destined for success though, and with their _Dockyard 1_ debut they've delivered a proverbial loaded artillery's worth of winning tunes.

The riff that pulses through the opening title track is both infectious and devastating. Curran Murphy and Dusty Holt's dueling guitars are given an almost picture-perfect stomping ground through the record's bottom-heavy mix, and Greg Wagner flexes his pipes with the confidence you'd expect from a seasoned veteran. Subsequently, "Crucified Freedom" amounts to a three minute exercise in expertly delivered, hook-laden aggression, while "Deny God" works as a haunting and emotive moment of relative calm. It's only on the odd occasion when the quintet shift gears and try their hand at old school death metal that the need for tighter quality control across the album's fourteen tracks is made apparent. For the rest, this is prime heavy metal goodness that will have you back for another fix more often than most.


(article published 5/10/2006)

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