Though they have ever brandished a competent blade of Germanic power/speed metal, Sacred Steel has always presented a huge barrier to entry in the form of vocalist Gerrit P. Mutz. Mutz is a frustrating frontman because he clearly is capable of doing some wicked sounding vocals, yet intentionally incorporates cheesy screaming that makes the band sound like a caricature.
Simply listen to the opener "Charge Into Overkill", a bombardment of great, heavy power metal riffing. Now listen through the vocals... there are some fine gang shout moments, and some bridges where Mutz uses a very catchy snearing style, only to blow out of proportion into some god awful shrieks. Henning Basse or King Diamond this guy is not, and it saddens me that the band (or Mutz himself) never calls this out when mixing the record. If not for those terribad, high-pitched vox this could be one of the contenders for power metal record of the year...the riffing is intense, especially on "Don't Break the Oath", "Crosses Stained With Blood", and "The Skeleton Key".
The production on Carnage Victory is quite good, it's dirty and spiteful power speed just like the great days of the 80s, when this style was actually considered heavy and not extensively overdubbed and saccharinated into irrelevance. The album is only a few cards short of a full deck, and the vocals are the sole culprit. It's not a matter of Mutz having a bad voice, but the bad choices he makes with that voice. Somehow the band has survived seven albums, on numerous decent record labels, but I found this latest album to be another exercise in 'should have been, could have been'.
Highlights: all of the music, very few of the vocals
Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]