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Live Report: Slagmatter, Come and Get It, and Savage Master

Musicians in Philadelphia must have a lot of time on their hands — that would explain why so many of them play in two or more bands. More often than not, a metal project is involved.

Such is the case with Slagmatter. The guitarist/singer is best known for drumming in punk band Loafass despite going by the name Metal Mike Reese. Unsurprisingly, the riffs are catchy, with bouncy basslines that betray Mike and crew’s other allegiance. That’s fine, especially for the first show ever. As Motörhead proved, there’s nothing to be ashamed about playing rock ‘n’ roll.

Speaking of Motörhead: Come And Get It has obviously listened to them a time or two. The difference is that they also like Venom, which is rarely a bad thing and isn’t one here, especially as they bolster that influence with increased speed befitting these fast-moving times we live in.

Vocalist Barrett Wulderk spent exactly zero seconds on the stage, preferring to menace the Monday-night crowd from as far as his corded mic would allow. The fact that he was audible over the insanely loud band is a testament to his vocal fortitude. Although hailing from across the river in New Jersey, this was the first night of a week of dates with the headliners going south through the Carolinas. They’re in for fun assuming Barrett doesn’t shred his vocal cords before they pass the Mason-Dixon Line.

Comparisons to Bitch are obvious and even a little lazy but not at all inaccurate. Hell, Savage Master even appeared on a Metal Massacre compilation, the legendary Metal Blade Records series whose first installment had Betsy Bitch’s band alongside Ratt, Steeler, Black N Blue, Cirith Ungol, and some band called Metallica (wonder whatever became of them).

The Louisville sluggers take the S&M shtick even further as her band dons hooded masks pilfered from The Mentors’ El Duce’s closet; candelabras haunt the backline, and there’s enough leather and chains that even Rob Halford would be impressed. Hopefully he’d enjoy how the main riff of “Ready To Sin (Into The Night)” completely rips off “Rapid Fire” too — but imitation is the sincerest form of ass-kicking, and Savage Master is here to do exactly that.

Stacey Savage commands attention, and not only because she’s the only one without a mask. She’s probably five-foot-three at best but seems twice as tall. She isn’t intimidating, but you wouldn’t want to fuck with her. Her vocals match her facial expressions, fierce and fiery, with perspiration and determination.

There’s a slightly thrashy edge to Savage Master, but mostly it takes you back to when metal galloped. Set opener “Black Hooves” lives up to its name in that regard, and “Burning Leather” off the recently released Creature of the Flames EP plus set closer “Death Rides the Highway” sound like long-lost NWOBHM nuggets by a band that Lars Ulrich will talk your ear off about.

Savage Master has put out some of the most authentic and fun traditional metal by a band not over fifty in recent memory. The live show is even better.

— Brian O’Neill

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