Heaven Shall Burn
Century Media Records/Sony Music Australia
Reviewed By Chris Gibbs
Having now ripped off faces for 20 years, Saalfeld, Germany’s prodigal sons of all things melodic death metal tinged metalcore, Heaven Shall Burn, return with their eighth full length album, Wanderer. Visually, the band's moniker is noticeably different with a rather simple yet sleek design, resting upon some quite stunning artwork that is very non-HSB so to speak. They have definitely made an effort here to distance themselves from the generic and long outdated splatter style logo used by every man and his dog, on the surface at least.
Beneath the surface, aurally, there has not been a drastic change in the three years since Veto was unleashed upon the masses, or even in comparison to their discography as a whole. The screaming roar of vocalist Marcus Bischoff is still top notch and while a tad one dimensional, it has not lost an ounce of venom or ferocity. It is quite terrifying that someone can consistently produce such a sound from within over two solid decades.
Maybe there is a little more focus on groove and melody at times across Wanderer, as opposed to battering your senses incessantly which can be an issue with Heaven Shall Burn’s music at times. Songs can tend to sound similar to one another, blending into a flurry of riffs and double bass that isn't overly distinguishable, though the likes of “A River of Crimson” grabs your attention with lyrics inspired by a friend's son battling leukaemia for the second time. The very death metal oriented “Prey to God” is a highlight, thanks in spades to the performance of guest vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher of legends Cannibal Corpse.
Heaven Shall Burn are no strangers to doing covers, as their history proves, and many of their choices over the years have been no brainers, but others quite surprising. This time round, they throw a pretty big curve ball with My Dying Bride’s classic “The Cry of Mankind”, sticking fairly true to the original, which you basically have to otherwise it would simply lose its identity. Marcus screams and growls his throat out, using a lower register that I would have liked to have heard more of on their own songs! The melodic and clean guest vocals of Sólstafir vocalist Aðalbjörn Tryggvason are also a nice touch.
I would always refrain from ever saying Heaven Shall Burn has a unique sound, but theirs is definitely a distinct one and Wanderer is still essentially one very familiar and ferocious wall of manic and Germanic noise that is Heaven Shall Burn by numbers. For those fans who listen to this band for precisely that reason, they should not be disappointed.