North Carolina’s Salvación are enjoying a good run lately. A few months ago, they released a revamped, improved version of their 2011 debut, entitled ‘Way More Unstoppable! Redux,’ via Heaven & Hell Records. A successful performance at the Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse Festival in Chicago followed in May 2016. And the lads are slated to rock the Frost& Fire Festival in Ventura, California in October 2016. In between all of these exciting activities, Salvación found some time this summer to hit the studio and knock out a four-song EP, ‘Keep Up the Fire,’ featuring brand-new songs. From what I gather, the idea is to showcase this (still relatively new) lineup of the band, and to air out some fresh material to round out their live sets, given that the ‘Way More Unstoppable!’ tunes are all at least a half-decade old.
It’s difficult to draw too many definitive conclusions from four songs and 19 minutes of music, hence my general lack of enthusiasm for the EP format. What I can unequivocally say, though, is that Salvación sound inspired, revved up, and ready to go here. Basically, this ‘Keep Up the Fire’ opus takes all the elements I loved from ‘Way More Unstoppable!’ and infuses them with an extra dose of adrenalin and inspiration. Thankfully, this band remains unflinchingly old-fashioned in its heavy metal / hard rock assault. Listening to these songs, I hear bits and pieces of everything from Iron Maiden to Thin Lizzy to Saxon to ‘Narita’/‘Fire Down Under’-era Riot to pre-sellout Def Leppard (check out that riff in “Straight for the Throat”) to even bits of glam (think Motley Crue) here and there. Along the way, however, Salvación persist in sprinkling glimmers of that characteristic swagger/boogie element that makes this band stand out in a vast sea of trad metal acts.
Salvación once again display their mastery of the twin-guitar art form, with Dan Todd and relative newcomer Reid Rogers (also of Knightmare) delivering killer harmonies and tasteful solos on cuts like “Out for Blood.” And vocalist Elliot Madre (ex-Praetorius) demonstrates, as he did on the ‘Way More Unstoppable! Redux’ album, why he’s the perfect singer for Salvación, his voice straining a bit in the upper register but coming through with tons of attitude like so many of the classic NWoBHM singers did. As for the songs on this EP, all four are winners, but my favorite by a sizeable margin is the six-minute “Keep Up the Fire,” which is not only the fastest, highest-octane track on display but also gets my vote for best Salvación song to date. “Keep Up the Fire” channels a bit more Iron Maiden than Salvación has historically done (I’m guessing that’s the product of Reid Rogers’ creative input), but the song rules from beginning to end. Lyrically, it’s a call to arms to every one of us in the true metal underground to stay the course, rock out, and don’t ever let that fire burn out.
Other than its too-short duration, the only bummer about the ‘Keep Up the Fire’ EP is that, at least for the moment, it is a digital-only release. That will hopefully change soon because these tunes (and the killer cover artwork, I might add) are too good to be relegated to a hard drive somewhere. I understand that Salvación are trying to drum up some label interest, which should be forthcoming because this EP is fantastic. It’s like ‘Way More Unstoppable! Redux,’ only better. My ardent hope is that all four new cuts find their way into the band’s Frost & Fire setlist because they are all great. For now, though, my advice to you is to check out ‘Keep Up the Fire,’ and above all, keep burning and blazing!
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~