It’s Sunday which means Sun-Signed time. This week we focus on power metal band, Savage Wizdom from the USA. As usual, if you want to be featured here, have a band you want represented here or just know of a band to check out, let us know and we will make it so.
Savage Wizdom formed in 2004. The line up at the time (Steve Montoya, Wes Rivera, Chris Herrera, Morris Branch and Chris Salazar) all had varied musical backgrounds and influences and as such were able to create a unique blend of modern and 80s metal.
Three years later saw the release of Savage Wizdom’s debut album, No Time For Mercy. Unfortunately it also saw the early demise of the band as the group split. However, the band were soon to reform with a new line up and a new sound. Now consisting of Montoya, Steven Montoya, Pablo Roybal and Sean Coblentz, Savage Wizdom set about writing new material.
Leaving behind the heavy modern sounds, they adopted a Euro/American power metal sound with influences based on such bands as Iron Maiden and Helloween. If you look on their Facebook (where you can get the full history of the band incidentally), you’ll notice such bands as Avantasia and Manowar crop up in the influences section. That sort of talk goes down well in these parts, we did name ourselves after a line from a Manowar song after all, guess the song and win a prize! (There is no prize).
Going forward a few years to 2014, Sean Coblentz has left the band and is replaced by James Stuart III which frankly is an excellent name for a power metal musician. The band enter the studio once more to record their second album, A New Beginning, the album that sits in front of me now.
Just look at this cover. It’s been torn straight out of the 80s. Hell, it could have been an Armored Saint cover. Dragons, warriors, wizards. You know how it’s going to sound before you even hit play which is the mark of good album artwork. If you’re a fan of this sort of music and see this cover, you know you’re going to check them out.
On the off chance you don’t know how it sounds though, we’ll break the album down a bit.
An ominous King Diamond style introduction opens the album with the track Sands of Time. Just as you’re expecting a dive bomb and a falsetto attack, the title track, A New Beginning kicks in with a traditional full speed metal riff under a big build up power metal cry. The vocals have a fair amount of reverb on them which again is quite reminiscent of the King.
Let It Go turns out not to be a power metal version of that bloody Frozen song (why am I oddly disappointed by that?) but instead is a rather excellent riffy seven minutes featuring Blaze Bayley lending guest vocals. Harmony guitars in an early years Maiden vein are peppered throughout and the overall rhythm lends itself to a fairly solid windmill pace.
These three songs are a prime example of what the listener can expect over A New Beginning. Throughout the album the guitar work is chock full of little harmonies, heavy Judas Priest style riffs (Chase the Dragon has a Painkiller era vibe to it) and galloping guitar runs such as in The Barbarian.
NWOBHM came back with a vengeance a few years ago giving us bands like White Wizzard and Cauldron. Despite not having the record label budget of these trad bands though, Savage Wizdom have the song writing chops to keep pace.
A particular highlight of mine was the obligatory epic, Trail of Sorrow. The intro riff has a heavy European power metal energy to it with happy and dark feelings fighting for dominance while the rest of the track ventures off into speedy passages to slow dramatic sections. There’s a flavour of Helloween’s Halloween and Keeper of the Seven Keys mixed in. With the Helloween reference, I should also mention the final track of the album, Point of No Return. While not hitting Kiske highs (and lets face it, no bugger can do that, and yes, we’ve all tried), Montoya delivers a very Kiske-esque style of narrative.
At 62 minutes, it’s verging on the long side, but the band have a lot to say and as a fan of power metal, I’m glad they’re saying it. Be sure to follow the links below to find out more about the band and for your chance to pick up the latest album.
Vocals: Steve Montoya
Guitar: Pablo Roybal
Guitar/Vocals: Steven Montoya
Drums: Steve Cordova
Bass: James Stuart III