There’s an extremely entertaining exchange on RateYourMusic’s page for Saviours’ Crucifire, in which two dudes discuss the merits, or lack thereof, of hipster metal. Saviours, The Sword and Early Man are both lauded and denigrated, in addition to, ahem, “fat, ugly goth girlfriends.” It’s funny, but kind of sad at the same time. Sure, nobody likes it when Dov Charney and his spandex clad, coke diet fembots crash the party, but this was already a disheartening argument when people drew a line in the sand between backpackers and mainstream hip-hop, and by now, metal fans of all shapes, sizes, spikes and leather should put aside their petty squabbles in favor of paying respect to the almighty riff. Epic, enormous, and just plain heavy, Saviours’ second album Into Abaddon is the kind of beast that unites rather than divides.
Less immediate and hardcore driven than debut Crucifire, Into Abaddon is as immense as the titular gaping underworld (which pairs well with the demon fantasy artwork). What the California foursome sacrifice in the way of accessibility, they make for by beefing up their sound. The production is much crisper, though by no means glossy. Each vicious riff is razor-sharp, fierce enough to draw blood but kickass enough to make you like it. In fact, the production values are largely what make this a great leap from their debut. The chops were there all along, they merely sound that much better now.
The immensity of Into Abaddon isn’t reflected just in their expansive spectrum of sound, but in their actual song progressions as well. Only the title track comes in under five minutes, and two songs venture well past six, which should be some indication of the structural ambition on hand. There’s very little atmospheric instrumental buildup a la Isis or Baroness, this is gut-churning, fire-breathing doom metal after all. Saviours come storming straight through Abaddon’s gates on leadoff track “Raging Embers,” ascending a zig-zagging guitar riff scaffolding, only to gradually ease into a verse, and eventually some extended instrumental wizardry. The title track, the lone three minute wonder, is every bit as burly, just a bit more concise, as Austin Barber’s mighty vocals bellow over one of the coolest harmonized riff interchanges on the album.
“Narcotic Sea” stomps with crunchy power chords and trademark drop-D doom metal chugs, while Barber’s voice takes on a slightly less abrasive tone. He still mainly fixates on a handful of notes, but he’s more of a shouter than a singer anyway, which is sort of the point. The climactic outro soloing in the song is where the excitement truly begins, with psychedelic swirls and harmonized variations create an even wider expanse in the already huge song. “Cavern of Mind” is pretty enormous as well, and actually pretty catchy to some degree. Its chorus even has touches of Soundgarden between its Sabbath and Sleep leanings. And when Iommi looms large over your catalog, it never hurts to go Thayil temporarily, just to shake things up. But “Mystichasm,” which wins for best title, is more Slayer than anything, driven by thrashy power chords and breakneck speeds.
Saviours may be the sort of band that can inspire both great admiration and great ire on internet communities, but Into Abaddon rocks adequately hard to set things straight once and for all. This is a band for lovers of all things heavy, be they on Kemado or Metal Blade, so let’s all give credit where it’s due, and raise our horns in salute.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.