Split The Abyss is a 4-piece death metal band hailing from Ohio, and “With Savage Intent” marks an interesting, albeit flawed sophomore record. With 12-songs and an hour of material, there are certainly great moments to be had on this record, but it also displays some amateurish tendencies (whether or not that is a plus is in the eye of the beholder, but I’d argue it works against Split the Abyss). The opening track, “Metathronon”, for example, gets things off to a bit of a bad start. It begins with a heavy riff, but the guitar tones are so vastly different between the two rhythm guitars that it makes the guitars sound out of tune with each other. The opening riff in particular compounds this effect; however, once the band speeds up (and it isn’t long before that happens), this issue shouldn’t bother you anymore.
Where you will be immediately impressed is in the quality of the vocals delivered. They are relatively understandable for death metal, but still retain an abrasive aspect. In addition, there is some variation to the vocals, as they have the power needed to do lows and some higher moments (though a rough death/thrash style is certainly the most prominent sound). The riffs run the gamut of the death/thrash sound, but are at their best when they stick with tremolo picking. This is most evident on “Radical Schism”, which is one of the stronger tracks.
It’s pretty clear Split The Abyss has the potential to do great, but sometimes the flaws are just too obvious to ignore. The composition in the solos is pretty weak, as there is no recurring theme, general structure, or really anything that makes a lot of sense. I haven’t nit-picked every note, but it feels like not everything may be in time with the rest of the music. At the very least, the transitions in solo sections are awkward, but this is not something that is exclusive to the guitar solos. Often times the riffs have an equally strange transition. It isn’t that any of the riffs on these songs sound out of place, but rather that consecutively linked riffs have no flow together. When the band avoids this, they are at their best. “Hand of Mercy” is the best place to see this; the verse riff, although simplistic, displays a well-written riff, but the chorus riff is strange and doesn’t seem to work at all.
Another area where I have to fault “With Savage Intent” is that its simply too long. Only a select number of bands can truly justify releasing an hour’s worth of material at a time. There is definitely enough quality material (both riffs and songs) on the album to create a chaotic, brutal 30-40 minute experience, but when things don’t gel perfectly, 60-minutes is a lot to digest. With all that said, I urge you not to look past this release. Split The Abyss has created plenty of moments to get your head banging, and there are quite a few tracks worth hearing.
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3.3/5 or 66%.