The burl factor on Salvador‘s Astral Eyes EP is almost immediate, the Portland-based three-piece using a quick-build intro to serve as foundation for emergent riffly lurch on opening track “Withered,” before bassist/vocalist Kirk Evans begins the first verse, playing dudely gutturalisms off more extreme screaming in an effective dynamic. Astral Eyes was recorded in 2011 but only self-released last month by the band, who’ve unfortunately already called it quits.
Evans contributes samples and rhythm guitar to Astral Eyes as well, alongside the drums of Ryan McPhaill and lead guitar of Aaron Lum, but really distinguishes himself with his vocals — for a Portland connection, some might recognize elements of Red Fang in his throaty but melodic approach — and the rumble of his bass. Songs vary in personality but keep a steady atmospheric weight, “Sharpen the Blades” moving with a slower initial pace as McPhaill fills out the verse before the chorus ups the fuzz and answers a quirky initial progression with a strong hook. Lyrics have us fighting, dying, traveling into a snowy north, rife with all the beardo imagery one might expect of the modern and heavy, but it’s the chugging end of “Astral Eyes,” or the consuming low end of “Sharpen the Blades,” the screams throughout, the destitute feel of “Seven Years of Plague” and the smoothness of Salvador‘s transitions between them that make Astral Eyes such a satisfying listen front to back for its 24-minute duration.
They close out with “Starbender,” the longest track at 5:38, which begins with a moody guitar line soon joined by an up and down bassline and echoing layered shouts soon contrasted with vicious throat-rippers that mark the stages of the instrumental build. In its final stages, “Starbender” sets a space-echo solo over off-time stonershuggah-type riffing, a sort of vocal gurgle joining in the last ring-out and fade. There are a couple reasons why I’d make Salvador the Obelisk Radio Add of the Week, but really it’s the whole package that did it. One can currently find Evans and McPhaill in the new band Sioux, who are expected to have new material soon.
Please note the photo above is by Bridget Christian and was grabbed from the Salvador Thee Facebooks page. Thanks to June Flood for the tip.