Through the Iron Forest
When I contacted the Danish band Savage Machine a few weeks ago to order a physical copy of their new EP, ‘Through the Iron Forest,’ they told me I was the first person in the USA to buy the CD. That state of affairs needs to change, and fast. I know we lovers of traditional heavy metal are living in a new golden age, with a dizzying array of new bands and new releases to check out every month. That situation, as wonderful as it is, inevitably produces casualties because there is insufficient time (not to mention insufficient funds) to purchase and listen to everything, particularly self-released albums from faraway lands. It would be a crime for such a fate to befall Savage Machine, easily one of the more exciting bands to emerge in this time-honored style in many a moon. Over the span of a five song (plus intro), 26-minute EP, the quintet from Denmark manages to impress on almost every level. Perhaps most striking on the first spin through the recording was the diversity of songs. Don’t be alarmed, as everything fits squarely within the classic / trad metal framework, but Savage Machine expertly mix galloping speedsters (“Prisoners of War”) with Swedish-style power metal (“Iron Forest”), moody slow burners sounding a bit like Crimson Glory (“The Easy Way Out”) and even a jaw-dropping Accept/Saxon-type anthem morphing into a Maidenish lead break and tempo change (“The Final March”). Even better, Savage Machine maintain an extremely high level of songwriting quality as they move from one track to the next, appearing equally adept at each style. The next element of ‘Through the Iron Forest’ that bowled me over was the quality of the individual performances, particularly the spine-tingling powerhouse clean vocals of Troels Rasmussen (brimming with emotion and character, possessing a terrific range, yet not sounding like a clone of anybody) and the dynamic, divebombing twin-guitar tandem of Jacob Bruun and Simon Kalmar Poulsen. Wow. Production values belie any suggestion of low-budget recording standards, with the band achieving a full, powerful sound courtesy of producer Jacob Bredahl (whose credits include Hatesphere and others, typically in the more extreme realms).
There’s really not much more to say here. ‘Through the Iron Forest’ is an unqualified triumph and an excellent introduction to Savage Machine. Honestly, the only question in my mind is whether the band can replicate this kind of success over the span of a full-length album. I am confident that Savage Machine are up to the challenge, and am hopeful that we’ll get a definitive answer soon. For now, do yourself a favor and lend your ears to ‘Through the Iron Forest,’ which is a fresh, exciting take on the old-fashioned heavy metal that is so near and dear to all of our hearts.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~