Oakland quartet’s third album is by far their most metal yet.
Greg Moffitt 2009
With 2008’s acclaimed Into Abaddon, this Oakland quartet began to shift away somewhat from the stoner rock of their 2006 debut Crucifire. Perhaps spurred on by the addition of new guitarist Sonny Reinhardt, Accelerated Living sees them ditch the sludge and stoner grooves almost completely in favour of an unrepentant full metal racket.
Barrelling opener Acid Hand sets the pace straight out of the gate: fist-pumping riffs, pummelling rhythms and more than a trace of out-and-out thrash. The rest of the album is equally relentless, even if the band still occasionally veer round the houses for a quick nod to their 70s rock heroes, especially Black Sabbath.
Axeman Reinhardt has clearly upped the ante in the guitar hero stakes. There’s no self-indulgent claptrap, but each and every track is peppered with duelling lead interplay worthy of Iron Maiden or Judas Priest at their 1980s peak. Crucially, however, Saviours’ sound has not been completely cleaned up. That would have been a disaster. Phil Manley’s crisp yet crushing production ensures that the band remain rough and ready and in your face at all times. The chunky thrash of Burning Cross and Slave to the Hex are the album’s most insistent, instant numbers, and they particularly benefit from Manley’s bristling mix.
Both The Rope of Carnal Knowledge and the extended workout Livin’ in the Void backtrack to a heavily Sabbath-influenced sound, but never linger long enough for a mellow mood to set it. Whatever curveballs they casually pitch in, a full-throttle thrust back to bashing, crashing and thrashing is never far away.
The band’s early hardcore influences still regularly rear their heads, especially in the caustic delivery of frontman Austin Barber. He’s the reason why Saviours will never actually be mistaken for Maiden or Priest. No matter how many extended guitar solos they indulge in, Barber’s simply incapable of the sort of high-pitched histrionics that old-school metal singers love so much. His strained roar lacks variety and can become monotonous at times, but better that than he foolishly overreach himself.