A healthy number of the blessed metal kingdom’s loyal subjects were rightfully stoked about Saviours’ first album, Crucifire, in 2006. Forged from the legendary thrash crucible of California’s Bay Area, genuflecting before metal’s late-’70s British forbears whilst never relying on nostalgia, Saviours galloped right out of the gate, swilling beer and spewing attitude. Maybe Crucifire didn’t fulfill the lofty promise of the band’s name, but it surely rocked harder than Jesus ever could.
Saviours’ second album, Into Abaddon, is sharper and rawer than the debut, exactly what you’d hope from four dudes who have been honing their chops on tour for like four years straight. Each of Saviours’ tendencies is amplified. This is still the same band of riff-o-philic Iron Maiden and Motorhead obsessives, but the harmonized guitar lines pirouette between chords more recklessly than before, rhythms chug with more authority, and the melody-rich riffs are a smidge catchier.
The songs are longer and more varied than anything on Crucifire, too. “Mystichasm” trades in Mastodon’s multidirectional riff odysseys, and the shifty structure of “Narcotic Sea” brings out Saviours’ latent punk energy in a proper d-beat before slamming into Maiden licks and a Thin Lizzy-style 6/8 beer hoist. We’re even treated to a doom-tastic perversion of the main riff from “Carry on Wayward Son” at the end. It’s a good thing that the music is a notch more complex, because, in the grand Lemmy tradition, vocalist Austin Barber stays apathetic toward melodies throughout. He never even makes it as far as a death-metal grunt –- he gets stuck on the one note he knows and rides it out for the whole album.
All praise to Saviours’ drummer and sole composer, Scott Batiste. Maybe it takes a drummer to offer the cornucopia of head-banging options available on Into Abaddon. Gnarled as this music can get, there isn’t a moment lacking in a steady groove, be it a war gallop, a merry swing or a straight-up 4/4 skull-crush. And that’s the secret to Saviours’ appeal, just like all those indispensable Saxon and Diamond Head records: There’s a hint of accessibility buried underneath all the chugging, a sheen of populist denim ’n’ sweat.