Words: Craig Hartranft
Call it coincidence or the fate of the heavy metal gods. Mexico's Split Heaven returns with their fourth album, Death Rider and their fourth new lead singer. It's Jason Conde-Houston, from Seattle's Skelator, also a traditional heavy metal band of the "true" metal variety, which makes for a good fit. If you're wondering, for Conde-Houston that was 2,700 mile trip by vehicle, from Seattle to Querétaro Mexico, 43 hours without sleeping.
What hasn't changed is Split Heaven's own commitment to classic "keep it true" heavy metal, twisting more to the speed and power metal side. The twin guitars remain for harmony and leads, and the rhythm sections powers the usually brisk tempo. Their heavy metal is definitely the galloping speed that puts the thrust into power metal. And those guitar solos are ripping and roaring, some of the best you'll hear. Strong lead guitar solos, of course, are characteristic of the best "true" metal.
Conde-Houston adds his range: while staying melodic, he can go to smooth to a bit raw to a heavy metal scream, as called upon. Sometimes these are all in the same song as within Ghost Of Desire, Destructor, or Sacrifice. I would call his presentation deliberate and well-suited to the Split Heaven sound and the individual songs. Additionally, and I'm not sure who's behind the knobs here, but the production, from recording to mastering, is lucent and crisp. I found this notable in picking up drummer Tomas Roitman's sequences over his toms.
So with Death Rider, Split Heaven stays constant, consitent, and reaching their goal. I can honestly say, there's not a disappointing song here. All killer, no filler. Favorite cuts: Battle Axe, Speed Of The Hawk, Sacrifice, Destructor. Easily recommended.
So with Death Rider, Split Heaven stays constant, consitent, and reaching their goal. I can honestly say, there's not a disappointing song here. All killer, no filler.
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