• Nathan

LOUDER REVIEWS: 'Of Truth And Sacrifice' - Heaven Shall Burn

Having plied their trade for two decades now since the release of their debut album 'Asunder' in 2000, German metal act Heaven Shall Burn have forged a tremendous name for themselves as one of Germany’s best and most consistent extreme metal exports. Existing on the precipice between melodic death metal, metalcore and deathcore; the quintet have always been more of a big name on the continent than in the UK. On these shores they are not the first names one necessarily thinks of when it comes to heavy music, but in Europe (and particularly in their native Germany) they are frequent names to grace the main stages of the biggest metal festivals around and can boast a key role in inspiring many European metalcore and melodeath bands. After deciding to take a break following the tour cycle for their last album, 'Wanderer', in 2016, Heaven Shall Burn are back in 2020 just in time to keep their fans entertained through the Covid-19 situation with a double album 'Of Truth and Sacrifice', which clocks in at just under 100 minutes in total.

Following a very brief intro song, Of Truth and Sacrifice roars into life with Thoughts and Prayers; which is a song that epitomises everything that made Heaven Shall Burn such a huge name in European metal. It comes in with a blisteringly furious pace, lyrics that are unashamedly political in their content and the savage guitar work necessary to back it up. The next track Eradicate does nothing to relent from this early pace and continues the onslaught on the eardrums (in a good way, of course). The first single so far released from the album Protector lets up a little; still offering the same crushing wall of noise when it gets to the chorus, but dropping much of the noise during the verses for lead singer Marcus Bischoff’s darkly haunting screams to really come to the fore.

The following song Übermacht gives an even greater period of respite with an uncharacteristic synth-based intro before building to a more densely heavy sound than is usual for them. This is the first of a few examples of what guitarist Maik Weichert was referring to before the release of the record when he described it “something that leaves a lot of room for surprises and experiments”. It is with the more familiar territory that this album is at its best however, with another single My Heart and the Ocean for example being much more successful as a memorable track to pick out of the 19 the record has to offer then its follow-up Expatriate, which is almost 9 minutes in length and unfortunately ends up being a little too rambling and misdirected.

After a few fillers and an orchestral outro, we move from disc one to disc two, which largely offers more of the same, only with a few more surprises thrown into the mix. La Résistance stands out in this regard due to its heavy industrial influences, which is not a territory Heaven Shall Burn often venture into; yet they handle the transition admirably never compromising quality in their experimentation. Again, the musical characteristics that make up the core Heaven Shall Burn sound are omnipresent even when new elements are added, such as Christian Bass’ brutal kick drums, Maik Weichert and Alexander Dietz’s sharp riffs and Eric Bischoff’s consistent supporting bass work. Meanwhile Marcus Bischoff reliably screams his way through every track with a commanding presence, highlights on disc two being Truther, their cover of the Nuclear Assault song Critical Mass and the final track (and final single) Weakness Leaving My Heart, which showcases the band’s ability to tug on the emotional strings as well.

Despite the trepidation that many fans will have felt upon hearing of such an ambitious project, Heaven Shall Burn have created a very successful album with Of Truth and Sacrifice. As with many double albums, it could definitely have done with a bit of cutting down and while there are some deviations from the band’s core sound, these are the exception rather than the rule which can make listening to the full album in one go a bit much (especially for non-fans). However, these drawbacks are more than compensated for by the incredibly high quality of the album’s content and the large number of memorable songs within it. It is clear that Heaven Shall Burn have used the time away productively and really focussed on writing some brilliantly constructed songs as well as making sure the quality of the mixing on the record brings out the best in them. If you’re new to Heaven Shall Burn, this is probably not your best starting point, but it is a must listen for anyone who has liked any of their previous output. If this is to be your introduction to the band, I would recommend listening to both discs separately to get the most out of it.

'Of Truth and Sacrifice' is out now via Century Media Records.

Check out the video for 'Ubermacht' below:

Heaven Shall Burn are scheduled for the following summer festivals:

05.06.-07.06.2020 (DE) Nürnberg - Rock im Park

05.06.-07.06.2020 (DE) Nürburg - Rock am Ring

11.06.-13.06.20 (CH) Interlaken - Greenfield

10.06.-13.06.20 (AT) Nickelsdorf - Novarock

18.06.-21.06.20 (BE) Dessel - Graspop

19.06.-21.06.20 (FR) Clisson - Hellfest

26.-28.06.20 (DE) Gräfenhainichen - Full Force

02.-04.07.20 (ES) Viveiro - Resurrection

09.-12.07.20 (CZ) Vizovice - Masters of Rock

09.-11.07.20 (SE) Gävle - Gefle Metal Festival

17.-18.07.20 (NL) Eindhoven - Dynamo Metalfest


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