Few music diehards go to as many pains to define genre minutiae as metalheads. For example, within the thin line dividing black metal and death metal exist "crossovers," bands that dig both corpses and wizards. You also have black metal with a noise twinge, death drone thrash, etc., etc., and so forth. If you are going to have a metal band, it seems, you have to first figure out your place on the intricate metal chart.
This brings us to Saviours, an Oakland four-piece that doesn't want to be defined in any particular metal terms. For the sake of music journalism, we'll call the group traditional underground metal with Motörhead-gruff vocals and good-ol'-fashioned riffs of might and menace. You see, that's the interesting thing about the scramble to delineate every metal band into a category. When you have a solidly straightforward group like Saviours, its lack of pretension sounds refreshingly original.
Saviours comprises Austin Barber on lead vocals and guitar, Scott Batiste on drums, Cyrus Comiskey on bass, and D. Tyler Morris on second guitar (who notes that the "D" in his name is silent). The band has just released an EP, Cavern of Mind. It's a limited-edition "single" with two songs, the title track being the strongest. It starts right in with driving, doom-filled guitars that make you feel as though you're being chased by Satan in a pickup, then Barber's vocals pound in. For a cute lil' guy with a baby face, he sure can channel Lemmy. The guitar work in this band is just amazing, with Barber and Morris weaving their instruments in and out of one another's, climbing and retreating against the drums and vocals.
After this EP, Saviours will release a full-length early next year on New York's Kemado Records. The band wanted a label that wasn't specifically metal, and Kemado fit the bill, hosting bands as diverse as Turzi (French prog-rock) and Danava ('60s rawk in the vein of Blue Cheer).
For their full-length, Into Abbadon, Saviours scored some amazing gatefold artwork. The band was hanging out listening to records at a friend's house when Batiste came upon some designs by Joe Petagno, known for illustrating many famous metal album covers, but most notably those for Motörhead. Batiste immediately tracked the artist down in Copenhagen and asked him to create something for Saviours. "He was psyched," Batiste says. "We rattled off a bunch of ideas and he ended up making this amazing cover. ... It's just nuts." At the center of the image is a pyramid with caverns around it, everything saturated in purples and greens.
Saviours are just getting back to town after long tours with San Diego's heavy rock trio Earthless and Sweden's doom-psych act Witchcraft. It's a testament (yes, metal pun intended) to this band's talent that it's touring with other heavies in the industry. Earlier this year Saviours shared a bill with none other than Mastodon. But it's still best to see the group back at its home base. The last time the band played at Thee Parkside, the entire room left pummeled. In a rock world hosting fantastic levels of wankery, Saviours' honest, riff-heavy metal couldn't come at a better time.