Artist Name: Heaven Shall Burn
Album Title: Wanderer
Label: Century Media
Release Date: September 16th. 2016
Genre: Melodic Metalcore, Deathcore, Extreme Metal
There has always been something about Heaven Shall Burn that I can’t quite put my finger on – maybe it’s the sweet, cheeky way of unveiling their latest tunes to fans through online riddles and puzzles or their undeniably perfect style of melodic metalcore. In fact, putting a label on their music seems like a slight injustice given the extent of their musical abilities. Whatever it may be, the German metallers never cease to amaze. What marks 20 years of their existence, their latest offering to the world Wanderer is a true masterpiece, proof of the unique take on heavy music, this band has mastered over the years. It shows their consistency with a much more focused sound yet has a few little surprises along the way that make for an incredible listen.
Beginning with the haunting tones of ‘Loss of Fury‘, a soft track at first but one that eventually builds up into a well-paced, rhythmic song is perfect for an intro. Marcus Bishoff‘s vocals come surging in powerfully, the whole track guided by this eerie melodic tune. It proves to be a little warm-up of sorts, providing the listener with a taste of what’s to come. A little squeal of feedback leads into the next track ‘Bring The War Home‘ which boasts glorious chugging bass lines, abrupt yet relentless drumming and excellent vocals that shift from raspy screeches to deep, fierce gutturals. A fast-paced track that is certainly mosh-worthy, it stomps significantly on all your senses. A note to those of you who are fond of lyrical content and understanding what a band is screaming about – pay close attention, this band doesn’t faff around with their messages; they are powerful in more ways than one.The dynamism of Heaven Shall Burn‘s heaviness is addictive as is the chaotic melody that lies behind almost every track (courtesy guitarists Alexander Dietz and Maik Weichert). A massive start that brings forth more crushing tunes, the guitars are stunning on this track and will captivate you. Heaven Shall Burn has always been a band that masterfully combine soft, and subtle symphonic verses with headbang-inducing riffs, both in various proportions as this is seen on some of the following tracks. ‘Passage of the Crane‘ begins simply enough with a sweet almost ballad-like harmony and maintains a brutal elegance throughout. I’d even go to the extent of saying that it is almost Scandinavian in nature sounding like a beautiful hybrid of Children of Bodom and Dark Tranquility.
While the fast-paced ‘They Shall Not Pass‘ has a more thrash-oriented vibe, the guitars sounding like perfectly synced machine guns and an addictive section that’ll ensure your neck is in serious windmill action, tracks like ‘Downshifter‘ have a more emotive element the vocals maintaining perfect time with the guitars. ‘Prey to God‘ which steps right into the realms of death metal with hard-hitting riffage, blast beats and the will to slay your ear drums completely contrasts anther favourite of mine which is the mesmerising sounds of the instrumental interlude ‘My Heart is a Compass‘. It has a nice folky vibe to it and gives you a minute to breathe, visualise and relax but without warning, leads into the sheer gargantuan sound of ‘Save Me‘. There is no rush with its mid-paced tempo and whispered vocals which are reminiscent of Insomnium. This is indeed something very different for Heaven Shall Burn, and they make it work perfectly, blending new styles with their signature sound dynamic.
‘Corium‘ is an old-time fan pleaser without a doubt and will lead to multiple mosh pits when played live while (slightly reminiscent of Godiva), ‘Extermination Order’ and ‘A River of Crimson‘ bring the album to a massive, crushing finish. However, the best is yet to come. I feel the band couldn’t have ended better than with a tribute to funeral doom lords My Dying Bride with a magnificent rendition of ‘The Cry of Mankind’. The very beginning synth sounds of this track and what it grows into progressively is proof enough of the versatility and pro musicianship they exhibit. It’s truly amazing how Heaven Shall Burn have added their own little twist to this eternal classic and is a perfect ending to what is one of the best albums of 2016.
The band’s ability to create music. that ties together the best of atmospheric soundscapes, melodic harmonies and crushing tones throughout without seeming repetitive or unoriginal has certainly come to the fore with Wanderer. It sees Heaven Shall Burn returning to their root sound while also proving their will to experiment and harness a a sound that they can call their own. Wanderer is the epitome of balance, emotion, elegance and brutality. Check it out.