SPLIT HEAVEN - THE DEVIL'S BANDIT (Pure Steel Records)
(Review by Sloof)
Split Heaven already exist for 10 years, but their third album is the first one for me personally. Totally unknown, hailing from Mexico and signed to Pure Steel Records. Elements that can go either way, but something alerted me that this could be another surprising discovery… The basic ingredients for old school metal haven’t changed, but the production is much more sophisticated now, that’s what I read on the infosheet that was included with this promo. With an outfit like cowboys from the desert, I was anxious to hear how these gringos would sound.
‘The Arrival Of The Gunslinger’ is a short intro that introduces us to ‘Danger Zone’, the first song that starts like a typical Heavy Metal anthem. Brazilian Hibria can be named as an influence or similar throat, although the voice of Split Heaven’ Gian Carlo Farjat is not able to reach the same high regions. His voice is a bit darker and in the tradition of great Heavy Metal bands, fits perfectly to the arrangements of the songs. This is his first album with Split Heaven, as he’s the replacement of Eligio Valenzuela, who lifted his voice much higher on the previous releases of Split Heaven. Besides great vocals, we hear abundant guitars when Pedro Zelbohr and Armand Ramos express their skills. For some reason I was surprised that this band originates from Mexico as they have a really European approach. ‘False Martyr’ is the next track and this is a logical continuation, albeit a little faster. Preceding the title track we get ‘March Of The Dead’ that has a little Iron Maiden twist, and also the vocals of Gian are slightly different. This results in variety, and that’s always a good move!
The track ‘Waiting For The Angel Of Death’ has an acoustic middle part that, again, fits in delivering variety. A song like ‘Runaway’ demands pace at full speed, and while Tommy Roitman is pounding his drum skins, the bass of Carlo Hernandez takes control of a heavy layer. The track ‘Diamond Gaze’ is a little mishap as it doesn’t contain the power and originality of the other songs. It’s a simple track that has an annoying chorus line. Better skip this one… What we hear afterwards is ‘Sinner’ and luckily we are at full speed again. Double bass drums, vicious axe attacks and vocals with Vicious Rumors meet Primal Fear attitude. The final song on this third output is called ‘Right To Rule’ and this one is even more Primal Fear as it has the same demanding structure and pompous classification.
The total playing time of 42 minutes can be summarized as an exciting package for any visitor of festivals like Keep It True or Headbangers Open Air, and proves at the same time that Mexico knows how great Heavy Metal should sound! My favorite tracks are ‘Sinner’, ‘Runaway’ and ‘Danger Zone’ and these tracks are the ones that lean on close to Speed Metal, the genre they used to play in the past. So, I guess it’s time to check their previous 2 albums as well and see if the attraction of a new vocalist lifts this band to a higher standard in their career. Mexico isn’t any longer limited to tortilla’s, cactuses and Chihuahuas!
My rating: 83 / 100
95+ : Outstanding, high valued albums & Classic Ones… a direct purchase is advisable !
Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan
Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it
Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing
Between 60 and 69: Rather moderate
Between 50 and 59: Bad, substandard
50- : Rubbish