|Review: Split Heaven - Psycho Samurai|
Label: High Roller Records
Year released: 2010
Originally released in: 2008
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: December 18, 2009
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Rated 4/5 (80%) (15 Votes)
Here is a rather interesting release from Mexico's Split Heaven. Everything about Psycho Samurai screams old school. From the logo, with all its sharp points and angles, to the cover art of the two samurai warriors engaged in mortal combat. Then I put it on and lead singer Eligio Valenzuela literally screamed a dead-on early Savatage Jon Oliva scream that sent me back to Sirens and Dungeons are Calling. Most of the time, his voice is only passingly similar to Oliva, which is not a bad thing, but when he lets loose with the high pitched stuff, it is uncanny.
And the rest of Psycho Samurai is pretty damn good as well. Generally faster paced than Savatage, Split Heaven nonetheless crank out some excellent straight up Heavy Metal. Solid, crunchy riffs abound, courtesy of guitarists Pedro Zelbohr and Armand ‘Hank' Ramos, while the rhythm section of drummer Tommy ‘Drumdestroyer' Roitman (fan of Dr. Killdrums Steve Wacholz, are we?) and bassist Tali Hernandez holds everything together. The songwriting, while not spectacular, is interesting enough to hold my attention through several listens. The opening riff from "White Death" is total 80s, while the tempo is amped up with some double kicks on "The Golden Times." Songs like "Iron Witch" and "Psycho Samurai" slow the pace down and had me wondering where I'd left my cassette copy of Power of the Night. There are no truly superlative tracks on Psycho Samurai, yet there aren't any weak ones either, so what you get is a high quality listen all the way through. Even the bonus tracks, "Split Heaven" and "Eternal Life" are decent.
The one thing that distracts most from Psycho Samurai would be singer Valenzuela's English. He has some work to do. Minor point, considering the overall quality of Psycho Samurai. Check out Split Heaven if you, like me, are a fan of twin guitar, 80s inspired Heavy Metal.
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