Thursday, December 26, 2013

Noble Savage - Killing for Glory

Noble Savage... I'd really love to make a quip renaming them Barely Savage... or Notably Average... something like that... but it would shamefully inadequate to describe Killing for Glory, their 2007 album which rates amongst the most tedious and cringe worthy of all power metal. Normally, Italy has added some awesome stuff to the Heavy Metal and Speed Metal pantheon in the recent years such as the must hear Baphomet's Blood and one of my favorites, Valkija's sole release. In addition to these, this year's Steel Raiser album Regeneration was a highlight as well. Steel Raiser however, is a perfect place to start when it comes to Noble Savage. Guitarist Giuseppe Seminara and vocalist Alfonso "Dragon" Giordano both are integral parts of Steel Raiser. Bassist Riccardo "Sixx" Liberti also spent some time in the band. The two bands are definitively linked and yet worlds apart. The definitive aspect of this album, which pummels the listener and the music presented into a monotonous existential dilemma is the sheer blandness proposed here as well as the exhaustion inducing effort required to muster up even the most insincere interest in this dull, haphazard indecency to the world of heavy metal.

Apparent from the second track, Killing for Glory is mismanaged pace wise. First track, "Lady of the Snows" runs into serious problems from the start. Like a track runner tripping over himself, "Lady..." sets precedent for the entire album. Bland and banal, the track is about as boring as you could make a lead-off track for a Heavy Metal album. I think the closest I've ever seen to such an incredibly tortoise-like launch is the piss poor  "Wildest Dreams" off Iron Maiden's Dance of Death, an album I actually find rather endearing. The first two guitar chords here just drag so hard I'm surprised that the back of my hands aren't covered in grass and sand. I feel like I should be hunched over like a proto-humanoid, not yet able to stand fully upright when I hear how tired the band sounds. When "Wind of Victory" starts off fast, with a decent heavy metal riff, I think to myself, "Phew! That first song was just a dud" but there are still problems... introductory scream is incredibly weak... and the drumming becomes noticeably powerless. There is no punch to the drums, sounding more like a new-years eve noisemaker than a drum set. Alfonso Giordano's vocals are hard to listen to at times across these eleven nerve-racking tracks. Strained and harsh, he sounds like he's singing from behind an oscillating fan, as often his voice waves in and out with a vibrato that no one would claim as their own. This is in direct difference with his powerful vocals in Steel Raiser. He's really improved a huge amount in that department.

The songs here are also very long, with little replayability, and very few interesting riffs. "Shadow of the Night," for example channels 90's Iron Maiden with the generic chord progressions and simple phrases. Under all the solos on the album - solos which technically are not bad - are phrasings lacking any bite due to a guitar tone that grovels without any hope of ascension in energy and melodies and riffs that would make watching slugs and snails sleep and breathe seem like a rollercoaster's worth of excitement and fun are born into an eternal embarrassing servitude. The slowness and precision of each note lends a clinicality as well as the feel of confidence issues to the album. With each note plucked with picks held so tight and restrained, the recording of Killing for Glory must have been a miserable expense of effort and regret, knowing that there was no hope to revive the tracks beyond what could be used as a scratch track. That's what these sound like to me - scratch tracks... the pre-recording process of figuring out what goes where but not paying a huge amount of attention to the actual sound or vibe. These tracks sound like tools, instead of a fully built release.

Compared once again, to the tracks on Regeneration or Steel Raiser's debut Race of Steel there is no doubt in my mind that something was on the minds of everyone involved in Killing for Glory that was unable to be rectified. The most memorable part of listening to this album had nothing to do with the music... it was myself being stuck in traffic and reacting to the utterly terrible choice to follow a bunch of ball-less tracks with "Season of Lies" which makes even the wimpiest power metal track feel like it has enough muscles to hoist a tractor off a small child. The lack of anything interesting or exciting here and the fact that I was literally screaming "ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?" to each example of poor musical decision-making were enough for holiday shoppers to look at me violently convulsing in my car. During "Time to Kill" we encounter the apex of these issues with the solos being alright, but never leaving impacting energy with a meek and embarrassing lack of tone. Instead of producing excitement, they create the exact opposite feeling during a failed half-time break near the end of the solo and transition into the chorus or verse or another-moment-of-shame that occurs repeatedly over the course of this eleven-track chunk of bitter heavy metal. Killing for Glory is a total waste of time and life. When the album was finally over, I immediately remedied my sluggish levels of awareness by blasting High Power's 1983 eponymous album. Skip this, grab the recent Steel Raiser album instead. That one is deserving of any metalhead's time.

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