Into Abaddon

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Say what you will about Oakland's Saviours. They're hardly what you'd call heavy metal innovators, they look and dress like unemployed auto mechanics, and their singer ain't the most melodious fellow in the world. But while the vast majority of their peers wax obsessively into minutely stylized sub-sub-sub-sub-genres -- be it metallic hardcore, neo-thrash, prog metal, metal-gaze, etc. -- Saviours just play heavy metal, period! 2008's Into Abaddon is their second full-length release (and first for Kemado Records), and while it doesn't level entire city blocks with quite the same seismic frenzy as High on Fire across the Bay, it comes damn close while simultaneously paying homage to Venom's drummer! (Well, the ancient Hebrew realm of the dead, anyway.) Suitably named opener "Raging Embers" establishes the orchestrated stylistic collisions embodied by the album as a whole: gothic mystical/historical lyrics; galloping, quasi-thrash velocity; weed-born, Sabbath-slow passages; the New Wave of British Heavy Metal's incomparably stripped-down aesthetic; and a dash of modern Mastodon-style riff complexities for good measure. Hear them wrought to perfection on album standout "Cavern of the Mind," which is as timeless a metal anthem as the new millennium has yet produced, and yielding oodles of undulating guitar histrionics on the title track and "Firewake Angel," both of which are reminiscent of like-minded Chicago metal revivalists Bible of the Devil. Then there's the bodaciously named "Mystichasm," which explodes from a staccato riff so fast and so fierce, any member of original genre architects like Maiden or Priest would throw their horns up in approval. And despite his aforementioned limitations as a vocalist, frontman Austin Barber handles his axe pretty damn well in conjunction with fellow guitarist Tyler Morris, rescuing both the borderline forgettable "Narcotic Sea" and the slightly meandering "Inner Mountain Arthame" (surely not a Mahavishnu Orchestra spoof?) with their riffs, solos, and twin harmony work. Oh yeah, and all of this was written by the drummer -- that's a new one! Hey, whatever works, and Into Abaddon sure does -- a fine effort.

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