As a wise man named Mr. Fisting Himself once observed, the latest trend in metal is finding the most obscure acts from the past and repackaging them as underground, cult and cool, or to quote the man Himself, embarking on “the slow journey up it’s own ass.” Taking part in this mining mission to Uranus, Masters of Disguise is a band wholly created to pay homage to the extremely under known mid 80s speed metal act Savage Grace. Whom, you ask? Exactly. Historically speaking, Savage Grace was an American speed metal act that detoothed the heaviness from thrash, but kept the speed and fused it with traditional metal akin to Queensryche and rounded it out with liberal amounts of NWoBHM. While they certainly didn’t get far in the metal scene or leave much of an impression, they did have good material, especially on their After the Fall From Grace platter.
Masters of Disguise is the touring band intended to support Savage Grace front man Chris Logue on his quest to bring the act back from the dead, but when that didn’t pan out, they recorded an album’s worth of Savage Grace-like material without him. The band’s moniker is taken from the Savage Grace debut and to insure they have no identity of their own, the album art features the lecherous cop from that same debut. They naturally cover a tune from their mentors and even feature a new song written by Mr. Logue. As meta as this all surely is, it wouldn’t amount to a hill of retro beans if the album wasn’t good, but against all odds, it actually is!
Since I’m sure 99.7633% of you never heard the source material, I’ll just say this remains very true thereto. The music is speedy, melodic and much like 80s acts Agent Steel, Abattoir, Omen and Riot. The songs strive to be as catchy as possible while dutifully worshipping the band whose nuts they hug so ferociously. Tunes like “Never Surrender,” “For Now and All Time” and “Alliance” really nail that 80s sound and the music is rich with polish, gloss and class while maintaining enough cheese to be faithful to the 80s spirit.
The guitar work from Roger Dequis and Kali Coldsmith is very impressive and their wicked harmonies, zippy riffing and flashy solos go down smooth as chocolate milk. Alexx Stahl (Roxxcaliber. ex-Viron) belts out his lines in the typically stratospheric style of Euro power metal and hits some testicle distressing highs, as an 80s Metal God is wont to do. His performance suits both the music and their main (only) influence perfectly. They score with the song writing too and the entire album is catchy and instantly likeable, especially for those who grew up during the original wave of American speed metal.
This is a fun, easy to like album with a nostalgia factor of 11. I find the whole concept of a Savage Grace tribute band completely surreal and the ultimate insider joke, but hey, if it results in good metal, who am I to complain. Give this a spin then go sample Savage Grace so you can be more cvlt than all your buds. Bottoms up!