It’s been four years since the German Extreme Metal act, Heaven Shall Burn, released their last album. After Wanderer (Century Media Records) came out, these hard-hitting fellas took a very justified break. Now with batteries recharged, they’re back with an adventurous new release. The band gifted us with the double album, Of Truth and Sacrifice (Century Media Records) earlier this month and it’s making quite the impression. Known for their aggressive sound and topical lyrics, this ninth full-length release is taking these extreme characteristics to a new level. The band has been around for nearly twenty-five years and they are still taking their massive sound to some exciting, uncharted territories.
The album opens with a short, ‘pump up’ track that leads into the masterfully savage song, ‘Thoughts and Prayers’. The explosion of frontman Marcus Bischoff’s venomous vocals strike and spark the senses. Each member contributes to a strong foundation of energy and angst that they continue to build upon throughout all 19 tracks. The majestic guitar work from Maik Wiechert and Alexander Dietz reinforces each song with an extra layer of intensity and innovation. Over the years the band has dabbled in a variety of subgenres like Metalcore and Melodic Deathcore, on this record you can hear all those influences and more. This is really felt when you hit ‘Ubermacht’. The electronic elements make for a very fun number and one of the more memorable songs on the album.
The song, ‘My Heart and the Ocean’ discusses the fight that is going on to preserve the oceans. HSB made a compelling music video for it which was in cooperation with the marine conservation organization, Sea Shepherd. Each song confidently expresses the band’s political and social concerns in their lyrics. Then the longest song on the album, ‘Expatriate’ takes its time on a dramatic, proggy journey so the listener can dive into a diverse presentation of spirit and sound. The last track on the first disc, ‘The Ashes of My Enemies’ is a short, sad string number that falls softly, but still hits hard. They wrap up this first half by putting the listener in an introspective mood before moving into the next part of this intense musical trip.
Disc one deals with the first part of the record’s title, ‘of truth’. HSB invites the listener to find out what their truth is. On the second disc, ‘sacrifice’, tells the listener that sacrifices are needed to protect this truth. Disc two opens with a piece sounding like old school In Flames or Dark Tranquility. The guitars gleam on ‘Children of a Lesser God’ with a classic Melodic Death Metal vibe, similar to their 2013 album, Veto (Century Media Records). Things shift gears on the straight-up techno piece, ‘La Resistance’. The wannabe Rammstein jig certainly spices things up. We shift again by the outstanding clean vocals on the track, ‘The Sorrows of Victory’. The band’s anger continues to fester and boil over on the more Metalcore-ish songs ‘Stateless’ and ‘Critical Mass’. As the record comes to a close, the finale, ‘Weakness Leaving My Heart’ has an earnest atmosphere that wraps around the listener and leaves them in a thought-provoking state. The feel of disc two is a little more disjointed than the first, but the diverse scape they paint makes for an engaged listen from beginning to end. Each and every one of these songs shines with impressive songwriting skills that channels the band’s fury and frustrations in such a heavy, poignant way.
8 / 10