Xtreme Machine

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Savage's final studio album, 2000's Xtreme Machine, showed a band bearing no resemblance whatsoever to the one that emerged toward the end of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, almost 20 years earlier. Heck, two out of three members (vocalist/bassist Chris Bradley and guitarist Andy Dawson) were even the same, but it's still a safe wager that not a single recurring fan would recognize those rough and tumble '80s upstarts in the modern metal machine crunching out of the speakers here. No thanks to Neat Records' typically lousy production standards, mind you, which get about as ambitiously technical as turning the dial up to 11, and letting wild distortion reign free across powerful opener, "Control Freak," and pretty much everything that follows. Slower fare like "Choke" and "Promised Land" feature that inevitable Alice in Chains combination of grind and harmonized vocal that '90s metal bands found almost inescapable (though it rarely works here), and the far from wasteful title track, "Creepshow," and "New Messiah" offer a few interesting riff ideas, as well. But, unless you come into this album with some prior emotional investment in Savage's early work, or at least the N.W.O.B.H.M., chances are your hard-earned heavy metal dollar will be wiser spent elsewhere.

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