Savage – “7/ Live N Lethal” 2CD (Minus 2 Zebra Records)
Mansfield’s finest have returned – with not one new album but a bonus live album chucked in for all you heavy muthas out there! Arriving at the tail end of NWOBHM didn’t bother these feisty Brits who took their swaggering heavy rock straight to slavering Euro metal masses and along the way gave the likes of Metallica and Venom a poke in the eye. Delivering their legendary debut “Loose ‘n Lethal” – whose title track Metallica still cover to this day – only served to make them into upstart legends. Going way beyond expectations, their small label at the time was unable to provide the necessary support and coupled with founder bassist / vocalist Chris Bradley’s loose and fast becoming lethal rock n roll lifestyle soon saw the band put on halt. With unflagging fan interest the band soon found themselves in cult status, resurfacing sporadically throughout the 90s to release albums and play shows although once again unable to capitalize owing this time to family pressures. Since 2011 however, the core of Bradley and guitarist Andy Dawson have returned, with Chris’s son Kris on guitar and long time friend Mark Nelson on drums, once again touring and more importantly releasing their critically acclaimed ‘comeback’ (or I should say ‘welcome back’) “Sons Of Malice” album! If anything this proved that this wasn’t a band trying to make a last bid to milk their past, but one that had learned from past mistakes, licked its wounds and was still savagely seeking justice in the merciless world of rock! “7” is twelve brand new tracks and if that wasn’t enough, then “Live N Lethal” is thirteen more tracks made up of the entire “Loose n Lethal” album plus a few choice tracks from the bands back catalog delivered live to a hometown crowd in Mansfield. Right from the off, it’s the clear but loud production that immediately grabs you, with little distinction between the studio and live material thus attesting to Savage’s roots as a fast rocking live act and one which they continue to practice with their in your face style. Next up is Andy Dawson’s guitar sound, amazingly still the same from the 80s with its unmistakable tone but after tons more practice, is spitting fireball solos along with feisty licks and cheeky lead breaks, ably backed by a furious rhythm from Kris – not to mention Mark Nelson’s pounding drums – man, it could be Aardschok ’83 all over again! Chris Bradley these days still maintains his youthful vocals although with his maturity there’s hints of Lemmy in his deeper tones which is not bad for this manly style of rock. Listening to the 25 tracks it’s pretty clear that Savage’s style is timeless, drawn from the rough n tumble pub rock honed in smoky working men’s clubs of the north, taking in the hard rock of the 70s, and finally 80s metal from the US and NWOBHM to create the fast n loose rock that can be appreciated by connoisseurs, bikers n headbangers alike from big, swaggering rockers to fast thrashers to blues boogie rockers and down n dirty metal. Of the new material, the monster riffing ‘Empire Of Hate’ or the cut it loose ‘Circus Of Fools’ or the ultra heavy brooder of ‘Crazy Horse’ all come equally closest to the glory days of “Loose ‘n Lethal” – and of those classics, well take your pick from ‘On The Rocks’ to ‘Dirty Money’ to ‘Let It Loose’ – it all still sounds remarkably the same so I’m sure Lars Ulrich must’ve ordered his copy by now!