Released: 2006, Dockyard1
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
Sometimes weeks, even months may pass by when you don´t hear anything that is particularly interesting or ear-tickling to grab your immediate attention right after a couple of first intense spinnings (luckily it´s been a great year so far release-wise).
Shatter Messiah, a new band lead by Curran Murphy basically who's previous jobs have been in such bands as Nevermore and Annihilator – both touring – and recording-wise, was a band that threw my jaw open by a sheer amazement just in a few seconds only when I placed their debut record, NEVER TO PLAY THE SERVANT, into my CD –player. I honestly, didn´t expect to hear anything like this at all – not THIS damn good and huge sounding.
Shattered Messiah plays a straight-forward, very powerful, rich, challenging and a very Thrash –orientated, modern Heavy Metal that could be described sort of hybrid of such greats as Nevermore, Pain Museum, Iced Earth and Beyond Fear. However, don´t make yourself to think they could be a straight rip-off from any of those aforementioned bands as they are not. They just come from the same modern school of metal in which a technical, ambitious playing with all those crushing, neck-breaking riffs – added of course with a huge amount of plain natural talent, have been combined with smart melody lines (the same way like Iced Earth create and do them) and genius harmonies that only a small handful of metal bands are capable of producing these days (the ones already listed, plus bands like Mercenary and Metal Church come to my mind).
The carrying forces of Shatter Messiah, are undoubtedly Curran Murphy and his brilliant, ass-kicking guitar work in the band, and the band´s vocalist Greg Wagner (Breaker, ex-Archetype, etc.) whom true skills as one of the most powerful, wide-rang´ish metal vocalists, are unquestionable. At times Greg manages to sound very deceptive, like in “Never to Play” in which he sounds like an exact twin-brother of Warrel Dane (Nevermore) as far as his vocalism is concerned – and on the other hand, one can wonder how on earth he can actually come as close to the voice of David Wayne (Metal Church, R.I.P.) in "All Sainted Sinners". It almost sounds like David has raised from the dead and done the vocals for this particular tune – not to forget how easily he even manages to reach the same register vocally in “Drinking Joy” of what Tim “Ripper” Owens has become known for. What a guy with so much awesome vocal power behind his lungs.
And co-incidence or not, but “Inflicted” reminds me ruthlessly of the Australian thrashers Hobbs Angel of Death´s song “House of Death”. Weird...
Without underestimating any of the other fellows in Shatter Messiah either, the rhythm guitarist Dusty Holt makes a perfect companionship to Curran with his 6-stringer, churning out ear-ripping riffs and clever rhythm changes that add a pummeling effect into the songs. As for the band´s skin pounder Robert Falzano, he has earned his most known spurs in Annihilator, and damn he´s very good behind his drum kit, too. Every fill, beat, etc. finds its target perfectly and yet somehow so easily - just like assassin´s bullet finds its victim´s heart. Ron, the 4-stringer possessor in the band, deserves a mention of praise also by his relaxed, but still tight and technical performance on the album.
As summa-summarum, NEVER TO PLAY THE SERVANT truly serves its listeners by all the 14 metal songs on it that scream for all those quality elements that are meant to be stamped as "instant classic" tag right after first listen already. It´s a safe bet we´ll hear a lot of more from them in the future.