Oakland, California’s angry doom quartet Saviours definitely know how to gnash their teeth with captivating riffage. Their dichotomous approach in etching cavernous mountains with catchy, ripping guitar harmonies while exorcising deep frustrations with their ferociously charged, venomous lyrics results in a massive feat in heaviosity. Originally hailing from the Bay Area’s hardcore punk scene in various other bands, vocalist/guitarist Austin Barber, guitarist D. Tyler Morris, bassist Cyrus Comiskey and drummer Scott Batiste came together in 2004, and show on their sophomore effort, Into Abaddon, that they definitely know a thing or two about the schematics of metal. Taking cues from emergence-of-metal hard rock of the ’70s and thrash legends of the ’80s respectively, Saviours have forged a gritty, chugging brand of dingy, stoned sludge on speed. And we’ve only begun to describe their colossal sound. Working with “Evil” Joe Barresi of Melvins, Kyuss and Tool fame this time around ended in seven songs of muddled distortion, huge walls of sound and the almighty fury of a Saviours live show.
Whether you’ve heard them on Kemado Records’ legendary Invaders compilation, or you’ve seen these road warriors on any of their heavily buzzed about tours, the fact is you’ve heard them, and now its time to get to know them. Checking in from the road, where the band find themselves on tour with A Life Once Lost and Rwake in support of High On Fire, stick slinger Scott Batiste gives a little background on who Saviours are, where they come from, and what they’re all about.
How and when did Saviours form?
Austin and I formed the band in the summer of 2004. We used to play together; we were doing other bands and getting tired of it. There was a bunch of fights/ annoying stuff surrounding it and we kind of just wanted to get out and do something heavier that was more in line with what we’re into. So we started putting this together. He went out with this other band on tour and just like spaced out by himself the whole time and got the concept together for Saviours. I was at home getting people together and starting to write riffs and it started like that.
What are your sonic influences?
Loud rock bands, heavy bands, early Sabbath, early Metallica, stuff like that.
I know you’re big on riffs, but what’s your overall goal with sound?
Yeah, punishing riffs. The whole idea is to be a hard and heavy band. We don’t really have any clean parts or build ups or anything like that. There’s a ton of other bands that do that stuff, but they can keep doing that stuff, cuz we’re not gonna do it. (laughs)
You guys call yourselves a ‘piss-angry metal band.’ Where does the anger come from? And how does it translate to your lyrics?
Yeah (Laughs). Just the whole world; it’s all fucked up, you know? It’s infuriating. You’d have to talk to Austin about the [lyrics], but it’s a bunch of stuff that’s going on in his mind and negativity in the world and drugs, girls, all that kind of stuff.
You guys are from the Bay Area. Coming from such a fertile place for doom metal, how do you feel Saviours round out that scene?
Well, Oakland’s kind of a dark place – it can cast a shadow and we’re influenced by that. I feel like that runs through it, but I think everyone kind of does their own thing [with it]. In terms of bands like High On Fire and Neurosis, those bands do their own thing totally, but just being in the [Bay] Area, there’s kind of a dread that’s not quite tangible, but still runs through everybody. It’s just a dark depressing cloud. (Laughs)
How has the band evolved since the first record, Crucifire?
The new record is just super different than the first record. The songs are a little longer, a little more developed and stuff, but the first album is still good. We still like the songs on it. They’re a little shorter and a little more raw; and I think that the arrangements are a little simpler, but it’s still totally solid.
Is songwriting a collaborative effort for you guys?
Yeah, eventually it’s collaborative. I write a lot of the initial riffs and then I’ll bring ‘em in, and [the band] will start to learn em and do their own twist on em and stuff, but I kind of am the catalyst and then everyone does their own thing to it.
I read that you guys wrote the record about your year of partying in 2006, is that the overall theme?
Oh yeah, the whole thing was influenced heavily by that period. We were immersed with doing the band and partying, living off the streets and ‘whatever happens happens.’ We had nothing premeditated, it all happened.
How was working with ‘Evil’ Joe Barresi on production duty?
He was great. I didn’t really even know who he was, honestly. I was familiar with the records, but I don’t really nerd out on producers and stuff like that too much. But once I checked out his work and starting talking to him, he was super cool; we really saw things the same. He didn’t want to ‘fix’ our songs; he’s not that kind of producer. He wanted us to have good songs already and his whole deal is the terror… he just wants it to sound super huge. And we sat together at the board to record and there was no surprises. So cool.
You guys are known for a great live show, so how does that translate to your record?
It’s pretty close now. I feel like [Into Abaddon] captures it, but I would say that it’s almost there. People say we’re pretty loud, so you kind of have to listen to the record really loud to get a better idea what its like. You gotta get bigger speakers. (laughs)
Any favorite tracks off the record?
I like the last track on the album. I think that’s my favorite cuz it was the last one to come together and it came together real fast. I haven’t gotten sick of it yet (laughs)—as far as playing it [goes], its still pretty fresh to me. It’s called ‘Inner Mountain Flame.’ It’s cool.
Now that the album’s out, what’s in store for Saviours?
Not too much. Just to go out and tour a bunch, and hopefully people will get into it. If you don’t, you don’t, whatever, no pressure. (laughs)
Saviours will be playing at Europa in Brooklyn, NY, on Feb. 10 and at Luna Lounge in NYC on Feb. 12. For more visit killforsaviours.com