Savages gets off to a good start with the riff-heavy romp Break. From the outset the production is clear and crisp and the guitar work of lead guitarist Mike Kingswood is as impressive as ever. I am glad there are young bands that are genuinely passionate about good lead guitar and the work during the verses of this song is excellent. Frontman/bassist Davey Richmond's voice seems to have a little more grit this time around, which I like. The lead single, Second Chance, is probably the best song on the album. Opening with an excellent twin-guitar harmony riff, which really shows off their 1980s influences (along with the gang vocals in the chorus), the pace and quality does not let up throughout. As is expected from the band, the chorus is extremely catchy and, based around a simple melody, it works very well. Kingswood also delivers probably his best solo yet. It is quite long, proving that his solos are not thrown into the song as an afterthought and treads the line perfectly between melody and technicality. The Only One is another decent track. Again, the chorus is the stand out part of the song. It is full of melody and holds your attention well throughout. There is another good solo, but the lead work in the song's main riff is a little throw-away and struggles to be heard properly. Live for the Weekend however just does not sit with me. I have always hated hearing people say that they 'live for the weekend' (it always sound so juvenile and ignorant) so that, coupled with some pretty dreadful lyrics, just make this song a real dud in my eyes. It also reminds me too much of bands like Blink-182 (no idea why, as it's not really a pop punk song) so this is one I can leave. A Freak Like Me gets the album back on track. I really like the keyboards in the intro and the verses are extremely infectious. When the whole band seems to shout the lyrics at you it gets you really pumped up and the chorus does not disappoint either. The problem is that hearing this song also makes you realise that a lot of the album lacks the energy and 'balls' that it has. I wish the whole album was this inspired! Heartbreaker is another solidly enjoyable song but it feels very safe after the excellent previous track. Again, however, I do like the use of keyboards here. While The Summoning had keyboards in some places, here they are used a lot more. I like that experimentation with the band's sound and hope that they continue to use them in the future.
Rescue Me is another really good tune. It is much faster and akin to their previous work. Ben Thomson's drums in the intro are nice and speedy but he does not seem to get as much chance to show off on this album, which is a shame. Harsh vocals are also used sparingly on this song, to good effect, and the really mellow breakdown after the solo sounds like something Killswitch Engage would do and works very well. After that song however, the album starts to tail off. The next three songs are pretty unremarkable and fail to be memorable in any way really. If these songs had been spread out throughout the album, I do not think it would have been as noticeable but, the way it is, this portion feels weak. It all feels very safe and extremely unadventurous. I find it hard to believe that an album can contain songs of the quality of Second Chance and A Freak Like Me and then also have such average filler like Leave it all Behind and A Beautiful Day to Die. The thing is, none of these songs are really terrible, they are just so unmemorable which is almost worse in a way! The last of the three Tears of the Sun is a little better though as the band attempt a ballad and it works somewhat. I think the song would have worked better as a 'proper' ballad though, rather than mixing gentle verses with heavier choruses. On their next album, I would love to hear a real ballad as I think they are suited to that style. Luckily, the album ends on a good note with Welcome to Hell. A nice atmospheric intro with a weird spoken word part hails a nice big riff that ensures the previous few tracks are almost forgotten. It has a very epic and dynamic feel and mixes fast verses with a powerful but slightly more stripped back chorus. I like the variety here and I hope that this kind of song is a taster of things to come. Again, keyboards make a welcome contribution to the song, this time in form of some tasteful piano towards the middle that ensures the song remains interesting. To cap it off, there is an excellent shredding solo from Kingswood that is the icing on the cake! Overall, Savages is a perfectly enjoyable album. I have reservations about it which I hope I have managed to get across in an intelligent and constructive way. I almost decided against writing this review, but I wanted to get my thoughts down on paper and, despite my problems with it, there is still lots to enjoy. I really hope that the UK sees a full headline tour soon too, as hearing songs live can really help them to open up!
The album was released on 23rd September 2013 via Steamhammer/SPV GmbH. Below is the band's promotional video for Second Chance.