If you’re a Heaven Shall Burn fan and you happen to be in self-isolation just wondering what the hell to do with yourself, then you’re in luck.
The German metalcore pioneers are not only back, they’ve unveiled a double album, ‘Of Truth & Sacrifice’. Not many people would’ve expected a Heaven Shall Burn double album coming, but stranger things have happened.
First track proper, ‘Thoughts And Prayers’, comes roaring out of the traps with lots of thick, hulky riffing which serves as a reminder that their part in influencing metalcore is somewhat overlooked. Thematically and unsurprisingly, this is an anti-religion tirade that pulls no punches. We’re off to a very strong start indeed, and ‘Eradicate’ continues in a similar vein, with the riffs and guitar lines coming in even stronger, and a chant-along vocal line also appearing.
For a double album to really succeed, though, there has to be some variation on show. Some pepperings of electronics make their way into things, and ‘Übermacht’ is the first real deviation. After a synth-led tease, an immediate, arena-ready stomp sets the tone, building into mechanical drumming and riffing, with some further synth lines also peaking some interest later on.
But with ‘Expatriate’, we unfortunately run into the first misfire of the record, a keyboard-driven experiment nearing nine minutes long. In spite of the noble intentions and some tasteful string arrangements, the execution of the spoken-word sections unfortunately doesn’t sit right for the most part, and it may even leave you cringing at some points. At least the fury and weight behind ‘Terminate The Unconcern’ makes up for it, showcasing the band at their best.
‘Children Of A Lesser God’ kicks the second half of the album strongly, starting off as you’d expect but moving into a slower, more brooding territory to close the song out, which shows that there’s more depth to them than meets the ears. ‘La Resistance’ is as close to they get to rave music, with synths and a disco drum beat driving the song, springing another surprise.
‘The Sorrows Of Victory’ is an attempt at a prog epic that also showcases ambition, and has some nice guitar lines, but unfortunately in some clean vocal passages there’s a strong whiff of brie about this one. This could’ve definitely been cut down in length.
There’s still plenty of positives, though. This half does feel distinctly different from the other half. Even if you feel like they could write these songs in their sleep, ‘Truther’ and ‘Critical Mass’ are both complete ragers that come roaring out the traps, bringing unrelenting fury.
‘Weakness Leaving My Heart’ is an emotionally fraught way to close the album, with strings opening up the song and it then building into an invigorating climax.
While some sections of this could’ve definitely been cut, and you’ll definitely have to set some time aside for this, ‘Of Truth & Sacrifice’ should be applauded for its ambition. You rarely find yourself switching off, and it overall shows that Heaven Shall Burn have no signs of slowing down whatsoever.