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Split Heaven – Electric Spell

Split Heaven
Electric Spell
by Michael Francisco at 12 October 2021, 1:08 AM

Mexico’s SPLIT HEAVEN have been around since 2003 and signed to Pure Steel Records  since 2011.  They often reminded me of other great acts like the vehement VHALDEMAR or tried and true TIERRA SANTA.

I have always followed the band, but it was not until the release of Death Rider in 2016 that the sacred fire began to awaken the tyrant and burn in my heart. This was all due to the addition of vocalist Jason Conde-Houston from Seattle’s SKELETOR. Like a soul possessor, Jason echoes Eric A.K. from FLOTSAM & JETSAM while also having the haunting palate of Halford, Ripper, and The King Of Fear Sean Peck. His Cyber Metal manifestations allow this Agent Of Power to channel all his heroes, whether it be Robert Plant, Ian Gillan or Eric Adams.

With the casting of the soon to be unleashed Electric Spell, Jason juxtaposes his skills by channeling Kim Bendix Petersen on the journey to never, neverland with the ghostly desires of “The Haunted Palace”. Here his love for MERCYFUL FATE is quite evident, as he is talking with the Devil, and deciding to not break the Oath. This is often what comes to mind when you play PORTRAIT or THEM.

Mr. Houston - The Lightstorm Bandit - is part Mexican and majestic in style. He is fluent in Spanish as evident by songs on Death Rider like the battle axe sacrifice of “Destructor” or the speed of the hawk windbreaker “Descarga Letal”. This time he chose to pen a song in Spanish about the Mexican Revolutionary War with Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, simply titled “Revolucion”. He often reminds me of the late Erico ‘La Bestia” Morales (R.I.P.) from DANTESCO who died this year.

In his own words Jason’ suggests, “each song is like a page in the Heavy Metal Craft Book. I get to choose what inspiration and vocal style I want depending on what the song demands.” His favorite new cut is “Hellion’s Night” which honors GRAVE DIGGER and showcases Jason and SPLIT HEAVEN’s celebration of German Metal.

In 2018, via Skype, he took vocal lessons from PRIMAL FEAR’s Ralph Scheepers. He also chose to fly to Mexico to record all his own vocal parts in person during The Pandemic. Covid and Delta have been difficult for most of us, and this is reflected in the words on “Back From Purgatory”, a song that is very personal to Jason.

With a diamond gaze on the past, the band re-recorded their 2007 “Split Heaven” Demo, and added subtle tweaks, new harmonies and more solos. Here the talents of Armand “Hank” Ramos and Carlo “Tail” Hernandez come in to play, as they lay down the law of the street. The rage of the Flamenco acoustic opening of “Gerudo Valley” leading into “Sacred Fire” sets the tone and pace for what is to come. The NWOBHM Gallops of the Title Track, or the “Defenders Of The Faith” offering provided by the bellicose “Let’s Fight” and sinister “Soul Possessor” clearly validate this notion.

I feel that Electric Spell is their best effort to date, as it is their right to rule. Eternal lies their prospects for the future, so let’s fight!

Songwriting:  8
Musicianship:  9
Memorability:  8
Production:  9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Gerudo Valley (Instrumental)
2. Sacred Fire
3. Soul Possessor
4. The Haunted Palace
5. Revolucion
6. Back From Purgatory
7. Hellion’s Night
8. Split Heaven 2021
9. Let’s Fight
10. Electric Spell
11. Immolation (Instrumental)
Lineup:
Jason Conde-Houston – Vocals
Carlo “Tail” Hernandez– Bass/Guitars
Tomas Roitman – Drums
Armand “Hank” Ramos – Guitar
Record Label: Pure Steel Records
     


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Edited 25 October 2021
 

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