Bay Area metalists Saviours wield the style’s cudgel with an exacting, precision brutality that establishes them as a distinct force in contemporary loud & heavy music. Their second full-length, Into Abaddon, is a pitch-perfect mix of NWOBH guitar histrionics, thrash tempos, “Highway Star” propulsion, and some serious, serious weight. Yet, as enormous as Saviours’ sound is, there’s something strangely down to earth about it as well. Where High On Fire and Mastadon can sometimes sound incomprehensibly huge, as if their music really was cast amidst the flames of hell or atop some other-dimensional mountaintop, Saviours sound like they came from nothing more spectacular than the basement. Given the band’s jaw-dropping technique and complex arrangements, it’s clear that they’ve spent considerable time down there, yet Into Abaddon is so easy to latch on to and requires so little effort to throw down with, you’d think been listening to it for years.
Album-opener “Raging Embers” establishes the basic musical template, as interlocking guitar lines drive the song forward, while lead singer Austin Barber roars overtop sounding not unlike Lemmy Kilmister. There’s a touch of restraint to Barber’s vocals, but it hints at a simmering, potentially terrifying rage, perhaps best kept slightly in check. And while rage clearly fuels these songs, the virtuosity of the performances makes clear that there’s more to Saviours than merely aural intimidation and malice. The songs average just over five minutes in length, yet every musical idea is used economically and in service of the composition; and there are no overt concessions to stoner mysticism or excessive doses of wizards-and-warlocks imagery either. And when the Thin Lizzy twin guitars aren’t leading the charge, as on the punishing “Mystichasm” (which chugs along on an inexorable barrage of chunky power-metal riffage), there’s a face-melter in waiting to remind the listener of Saviours’ M.O. (and in the case of “Mystichasm,” when it hits, brother and sisters, it will knock you flat).
Saviours are both straightforward in their aggression and unrelenting, and their combination of instrumental exactitude, tight song writing, vocal fury and classic rock swagger makes for one of the most easily listenable and well-crafted metal albums to come along in some time.