The crack of lightning, the rumble of thunder: If I had a nickel for every time I heard a song with such ominous bleatings, I still wouldn’t be able to buy a pint. But, this time, there’s no falsettos to back the rumble or guitar shredding to support the raining blood. Instead, Denmark’s Savage Machine uses this sky screaming to launch mankind from this puny planet. But, what’s in store for mankind on Abandon Earth? No one knows until the opening song begins to ramp up. As the strikes and crashes subside, and the piano and vocals surface, the true nature of Abandon Earth becomes clear. Mixing the heavy with the power metal, this five-piece sets a course for a new frontier that uses Iron Maiden/Iced Earth-like songwriting. All the while Troels Rasmussen’s voice soars and croons into Hansi Kürsch territory. And, like its influences, Abandon Earth covers all corners of the galaxy. It delivers crushing riffs, atmospheric solo work, and the emotion and passion that burns as bright as the sun.
Take that end-of-the-world mentality from Iced Earth‘s Something Wicked This Way Comes, the heaviness of Metal Church, and the power of Blind Guardian and you have opener “Exodus.” It has a soothing intro, some killer groove, great Hansi-isms, and a chorus as sticky as honey. But, as far as sticky choruses go, “Exodus” is only the beginning. Songs like “Age of Machines,” “The Hunter,” “Fourth Dimension,” and “Savior” raise the bar. Like the opener, “Age of Machines” is a great mix of all that is Savage Machine. While “The Hunter” brings the Guardian, “Fourth Dimension” brings the Maiden, and the back-to-back “Event Horizon” and “Savior” blow it all sky high. While all are grand, “Savior” unleashes troll-sized choruses, torrential power metal chugs, and a staccatoed Iced Earth riff that’d turn chain-link into spaghetti.
As we traverse the album, the vocals become bigger, the guitar work gallops and charges harder, and the songwriting focuses on the riffs and builds just as much as the choruses. Not only that but the emotion settles heavy on some of the more memorable numbers. For instance, like “Age of Machines,” the two-minute “Event Horizon” has that pop, power, and passion as only Unleash the Archers can write and “Behind the Veil” is the undisputed ballad of the record. The latter is a three-minute piece packed with all the acoustic guitars and clean vocals you could ever want. It’s simple in design but I’ll be damned if that addictive chorus doesn’t suck me in every goddamn time.
But a power metal record can’t exist without a few album epics. And Abandon Earth has three. “Savior” is pretty much everything a power metal song should be. As mentioned before, it has massive riffs, a killer drive, big vocals, haunting spoken-word segments, and a transition toward the end that fucking rocks. Then, there’s the seven-and-a-half minute “Time Traveller”—which sounds like something straight from the halls of Blind Guardian. Except that its got more of a Demons & Wizards vibe to it than Hansi’s mainstay. The last of the three is “Fall of Icarus.” This one has an opening segment that is simply mind-boggling. For close to two minutes, the song is nothing but the impressive pops and taps of bassist Benjamin “Atlas” Andreassen. It’s a fucking beast of an opener that unravels into some start-stop chugging and a transition toward the end that steamrolls into a kickass groove.
But, for all the epicness of “Fall of Icarus,” it’s not as memorable as the other two pieces. Along those lines, “Exodus” and “Time Traveller” are a touch on the long side. This is being nitpicky, but they tend to drag toward the end. While these two tracks still have redeeming qualities, the song that does nothing for me is closer “Welcome to Hell.” For how many times I’ve listened to this album, I still can’t tell you anything about it. I never seem to remember what it sounds like with “Savior” preceding it.
That said, this self-released debut is fucking impressive. It feels good, sounds good, and has all the beefiness a great power metal record should have. Without overstating the positives of the album—or making them sound grander than they may be—the gallop, the attitude, and the powerful delivery make for a fun set of songs. Abandon Earth isn’t the most original release but this is still an early-year surprise and I’ll be keeping my eyes on this little Danish outfit. If you’re into this kinda thing, you should check this out.