Shatter Messiah - _God Burns Like Flesh_
(Dockyard 1, 2008)
by: Jackie Smit (9 out of 10)
Metal for the love of making metal -- at least, that's the indelible impression that Shatter Messiah's stunning debut, _Never to Play the Servant_, left on me when I first heard it back in 2006. Speaking to the band's el commandant, Curran Murphy, a few months later only re-affirmed this as Shatter Messiah's barefaced objective; no delusions of innovation (though they're a damn sight more inventive than several of their peers), simply a focused assault of balls-out, riff-led heavy metal. Encouragingly, the quintet's sophomore effort hasn't veered away from this mantra.

The opening strains of "Idolator" takes us to homespun territory early on, with Curran's love for the grandiose post-power grinding of Annihilator and Nevermore as audible as it's ever been. It's not long, however, before the band pull something of a surprise gear-shift on us with the double-header instalment of the title track showing off a more mature, progressive and intense Shatter Messiah than at any point on their debut. Each individual performance is dead on target, particularly vocalist Greg Wagner, whose bolstered confidence rapidly sees him move out of Warrell Dane's shadow and on toward being an entity all of his own. "Stripped of Faith" and "Pathway" both court a subtle thrash undercurrent, the contrast making each tune's chorus sound absolutely mammoth, while on "Buried in Black" drummer Robert Falzano launches into a rare, yet highly effective blast beat that thoroughly underlines Shatter Messiah's impressive growth.

Rounded out by perhaps the album's finest moment in "Tomorrow Immortal", _God Burns Like Flesh_ is a remarkable effort in every respect -- as heavy as a jack-hammer symphony, as infectious as an outbreak of leprosy, and as epic as a Scorcese flick. Truth be told, if you had any sense you'd be halfway to your closest music store by now.


(article published 25/2/2008)

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