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Saviours: Into Abaddon

Desc:CD REVIEW: ARTIST: Saviours

Into Abaddon picks up where Metallica left off – in 1985. That’s not to say this Oakland quartet is strictly emulating Hetfield & Co. Still, the unabashedly retro stylings on Saviours’ second album evoke the feeling of listening to some ratty Music for Nations cassette.

Saviours is a band intent on reminding metal fans what they truly love about the genre: heaviness, syncopated guitar, a pounding rhythm line that allows headbanging for more than a measure and a half and enough dirty, rocking power to slaughter thine enemy; Saviours deliver on all of these elements relentlessly. Clocking in at just over 39 minutes, Into Abaddon is defiantly unfussy. While dueling guitar lines (a la Iron Maiden), modular structures (see: Metallica) and roiling riffage (hello, Motörhead) are all employed, the band never gets the idea that a 19-minute low-frequency meditation on doom/death/the universe is part of their mission. 

These guys play metal exactly the way a Bay Area metal band should: powerfully and passionately. Pulling together the leftover pile of New Wave of British Heavy Metal influence that Metallica so carelessly left lying on their therapist’s couch, Saviours draws a direct line to the likes of Blitzkrieg, Iron Maiden, Raven and Diamond Head, mildly updated for 21st-century tastes. Vocalist Austin Barber’s gravelly howl of a voice is reminiscent of recent metal vocalists (with a touch of Lemmy Kilmister/Scott “Wino” Weinrich thrown in), as he largely dispenses with melodic structure when puking out his lyrics. Other than that, it would be easy to pass off Into Abaddon as a lost classic of the 1985 San Francisco NWOBHM revival scene. (For proof, check out the Raven-quoting-then-Metallica-quoting “Mystichasm.” For chrissakes, the song has a church bell in it.)

The production work by Joe Barresi – who’s been behind the boards for some of the sludgiest contemporary metal albums of the past decade – exponentially magnifies the effect. Though of much higher fidelity, Barresi’s work here sounds like a Flemming Rasmussen production, if Rasmussen had none of that Scandinavian tendency for crystalline cleanliness.

While one never wants to applaud a modern band for looking backward, as all fans of true metal know, there’s a lot of unfinished business from the Golden Age. Here’s to a band willing to take on the challenge.
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