Released: 2013, Cruz Del Sur
I remember back in late 1997 buying the debut Hammerfall album and REBORN IN STEEL the debut album by Sacred Steel at roughly the same time. I recall being favourably impressed by both and just happy to have a couple more True Metal Warriors entry the battle at the tail end of the decade. I felt the Hammerfall was the better record and over time I think the bulk of fans would agree as Hammerfall became one of the bright lights in the worlds Power Metal revival and Sacred Steel remained committed and prolific but perhaps not as recognized. I've always drawn a parallel between the two bands, each have warrior type heroes on their album covers, both have eight albums, both have a medieval vibe and so on, but while Hammerfall galloped off into the sunset on a white steed, Sacred Steel remained in the trenches with the dogs of war, essentially a dirtier, tougher and meaner version of Hammerfall.
After a long gap of four years, Sacred Steel are back with their 8th album, THE BLOODSHED SUMMONING with yet another grammatically awkward title and an uncharacteristically cartoon-like album cover. In the interim four years the line- up of the German quintet remained the same but the record label did not as the band have made the jump to Cruz Del Sur. It's a bit of an odd fit, without being able to explain why. The other consistency is the bands brand of Power/Thrash one foot firmly in each camp.
Bands like Sacred Steel rely on consistency and adhering to the expectations of the small but loyal fanbase. Accordingly, not much has changed musically over the past several albums. Their interesting blend of Germanic marching Metal and USPM make for a heady combination. The riffs are solid, the tempo is quick for the most part but not just pure speed. I'm hearing a bit more thrash in the mix perhaps than before. I've read a number of reviews of Sacred Steel albums and all of them almost exclusively mention the vocals of Mutz and ...well..how bad they are. Personally I've always liked his voice. People say it is too rough but compared to any number of Death Metal or Black Metal vocalists it's not that harsh. Maybe for the Power Metal crowd it's a bit rough and raw but so are the voice of his countrymen Boltendahl, Dirkschneider and Kasperak.
Sacred Steel almost single-handedly own a zone that is simultaneously too heavy for the 'happy' Euro Metalists but too light for the thrashers who may feel disenchanted by the bands whole Power Metal stance; lyrics, album covers etc. THE BLOODSHED SUMMONING is another flawless example of what they do best with their unique sound and delivery.