Released: 2013, Limb Records
There are many weird things that happen in the Metal realm, and the German band Masters Of Disguise are certainly one of them. 30 years ago in Los Angeles, California there was a short live band called Savage Grace. They were active for about five years and then disbanded. While admittedly obscure, they did release a couple of EP’s and a pair of well-received albums. This is where it gets weird.
Founding vocalist Christian Logue reformed the band in 2009 with members of the German NWOBHM tribute band Roxxcalibur as the band. They did a few festival appearances. They started to work on a new album and then allegedly Logue disappeared. The remaining guys hired a new singer, finished the album, renamed the band and here we are! So we have Masters Of Disguise, who are really a NWOBHM Tribute band, who were the touring line-up of a dead band but who are now pretending to be a tribute to an 80’s US Metal band. Like I said…weird. The most important fact is that Masters Of Disguise are really good!
The bands full-length debut (following an EP) came out in late 2013 and it carries the appropriate title of BACK WITH A VENGEANCE. The interesting thing is that because this band (Roxxcalibur/Masters Of Disguise) are still sort of a Savage Grace tribute band. The artwork is a nod to the original Savage Grace album. The font and logo are very similar and of course the band name is the title of the first Savage Grace album. On the album they do a cover tune. Can you guess which band they cover? Yes, you got it right, they do a version of ‘Scepters Of Deceit’ by Savage Grace from the Metal Blade Compilation, METAL MASSACRE II.
BACK WITH A VENGEANCE is a punchy, 10-song, 43-minute album of solid, kick-ass Metal. It is actually much better than I expected it to be. I only say that because I though that the band might try to copy the Savage Grace style a bit to closely, but they have written and recorded a excellent batch of songs. The vocals of Alex Stahl (ex-Viron) and powerful, loud and he has a good range and get up into the higher registers with ease. He has a little bit of Hansi Kursch in his phrasing, which is always a good powerful sound. The rest of the formidable band keep the songs surging forward at a good pace, a bit faster than I expected. There are some great classic sounding solos and you can hear a little bit of the early Helloween influence, not quite thrash but speedy and powerful.
If you can wrap your head around all that trivia and band history, or even of you just choose to ignore it completely, what matters most is what counts; and that is BACK WITH A VENGEANCE is an excellent Metal album. No matter who they are, or were, or are pretending to be, pound for pound and song for song the band and album are totally worth checking out. I hope the members of the band continue and maybe establish their own identity. Until then this is a neat little curiosity in the weird wide world of Metal.