|Review: Mob Rules - Savage Land|
Label: Limb Music Products
Year released: 1999
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: March 13, 2008
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Rated 4.19/5 (83.75%) (16 Votes)
It's always nice to see a budding young bad bash out something as cool and lively as Savage Land is. Mob Rules debuted in 1999 with this little firecracker of an album, and sadly the band never again produced anything quite as cool or inventive as this one. Hailing from Germany, Mob Rules' debut was leagues and leagues ahead of the debut efforts from other bands of their ilk, and it's a shame that this album isn't so well known. The songwriting here is just stellar all the way through, diving and twisting through a cacophony of influences ranging from Maiden and Priest to Helloween and Gamma Ray, having a sound firmly in the middle of those two peaks. This is also a concept album about the end of the world, which isn't a new concept, except it's not done here in the typical fashion that you're probably expecting.
The guitars are definitely the focal point of the music, and while the guitar work here isn't as fleshed out or ornate as it would be later, it's a lot better than it would be on subsequent releases, with nimble, crunchy riffs in abundance and a killer tone, with a lot of cool little trills and bits here and there, like on "Rain Song" especially. Every song has a boatload of great hooks and is instantly enjoyable, and it even grows on you with ample listens, revealing new melodic ideas that you didn't notice on previous spins. Klaus Dirks' vocal performance is nothing short of stellar. He has a smooth, clear, crystalline tone, and usually stays in the higher ranges, although he never becomes irritating or hard to stomach, keeping just enough edge in his voice to stay interesting. All of the vocal lines are golden, too, just the right icing that this Power Metal cake needs.
Overall, while primitive and not fully matured, Savage Land is a young band already at their prime; a fresh and liberating attack on the senses. There are a whole bunch of great songs here: booming, searing opener "Insurgeria," which boasts a song structure quite unlike any I've ever heard before, "Rain Song," with its excellent, ultra-melodic chorus and soothing melodies, "Hold Back the Light," which is a mid-paced epic with more of the stunning guitar harmonies we've come to expect, "Secret Signs," which has a set of galloping riffs and Scottish folk melodies to back up the infectious chorus, and "Pray for Sunlight," being the super-happy Freedom Call jaunt that it is.
Essential Power Metal fare right here, so if you enjoy the genre even a bit, you will find many delights within the unfurnished jewel that is Savage Land. Highly recommended.
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