Cruel Magic

Man! This is release is totally out of my comfort zone so bear with me if I seem like NWOBHM is a new language to me.  Newcastle England’s Satan have returned with their fourth full length studio release Cruel Magic.   I was initially turned on to Satan by the singer of the band I am in.  He highly recommended that I checked out their last record Atom by Atom which an absolute beast of a record.

I guess for me the safest way to describe Satan would be like a cross between Grave Digger and maybe older Deep PurpleCruel Magic opens up with “Into the Mouth of Eternity” which an excellent choice to kick off the album. Wasting no time in bringing in the massive harmony parts and then going a bit more up tempo. The production is killer and all instrumentation breathes well together. Having been together since 1979 these guys sound like a group that has been jamming together for decades.  The guitar work of Russ Tippens and Steve Ramsey is on point throughout the whole album and their trademark melodies and harmonies have this reviewer head banging pretty much the whole way through. Brian Ross’s voice is perfect for this type of music and it is not too overbearing versus other bands that may play this style and have a bit more of a falsetto.  Ross’s voice compliments all of the arrangements quite well.  There are parts on here that sound like they could have come from Grave Digger’s See you in hell album.  More so just on vocal accents.  Their influence on the NWOBHM continues with groups like Satan.

The title track, “Cruel Magic” opens with a classic sounding lick that sounds like it could have come from Ritchie Blackmore.  In reading the sheet on Satan for this album it is interesting that they didn’t go into this album with any sort of preset plan. They just hashed it out as they went and tried to make the most fluid metal album they could.  I must say this is pretty fucking metal.  Cruel magic has such a gallop to the beginning and once it reaches the verse section you would swear it turned into 1976. Although this material might sound dated to some it is quite well played and catchy. “The Doomsday Clock” is also another strong track that opens up with some classical styled arpeggiation from the string section before things pick up tempo.  The dual harmony lead work on this track is quite well done. “Legions Hellbound” might have the catchiest opening riff on the album.  Again, gallops all over the place.

“Death Knell for a King” is probably my favorite track on the record.  It is one of the few tracks where you can actually hear the bass for a few measures.  Some might consider Satan’s sound a bit thin but I think it is what it is.  They do an excellent job layering through the record that for the most part even and level.  I think my ears would just like to hear a little bottom more bottom end.  Satan are total throwback band and they play this style quite well. I think this album is worth checking out for what it is.  Enjoy!


[Visit the band's website]
Written by Nick K
October 3rd, 2018


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