Heathen
The Evolution of Chaos

So it’s become a bit of trend with all these old thrash bands dusting off their instruments and chops to reform and deliver new material. One of the latest is the Bay Area’s Heathen (but to their credit, they were among the first to actually reform, it’s just taken 6 plus years to complete the album) to give us a platter of old school thrash made new.

Of the two albums they managed to release before they split, sophomore album Victims of Deception is regarded a classic in some circles, or at the very least, a masterful slice of progressive tinged Bay Area Thrash. I am among this crowd, as Victims is an all time fave. Naturally I’d been looking forward to this release for quite some time with great anticipation, wondering how it could possibly stack up it’s predecessor, especially after such a long delay. I’m happy to report that it’s a full on win.

The Evolution of Chaos is chock full of masterful songwriting, wicked chops and memorable songs. The guitar duo of Lee Altus and newcomer Kragen Lum work together seamlessly, punching out first class riffs, soaring leads and jaw dropping solos one after another, song after song. Vocalist David White (aka David Godfrey) has maintained a great command of his voice and range over the years, and here delivers superb clarity and power without ever crossing into that realm of cheesy high end vocalists ala most power metal.

Highlights of the album come by way of the barn burning opener (after a brief middle eastern tinged intro) “Dying Season”, the galloping “Arrows of Agony”, and “Bloodkult”, another ripper which borrows a play or two from the Testament handbook. The real star of the album though is the 11 minute epic “No Stone Unturned”. The song is split into 3 distinct sections, leading off with a simple, mid paced piece which fades into a slower, soulful sounding solo section, and finally leads into neck-snapping pace and shredding solos to the songs climax. In the end, the song hardly feels like the 11 minute beast that it is.

The only downfall of the album comes from the ballady “A Hero’s Welcome”, a song that to me, totally disrupts the flow of the album. It’s an ode of sorts to soldiers fighting for their country overseas. The message is admirable, but the song itself does nothing for me or the album. The spoken word bit mid song is just too much – it stands out like a white guy in the starting line up of an NBA team. After a handful of plays, I just removed it from the playlist, problem solved. Outside of this minor misstep, there’s no flaws to be found.

In the end, Heathen made a Heathen album, one that doesn’t simply copy their past, but expands upon it without losing their sound. Impressive for a band that went nearly two decades without a proper recording. The Evolution of Chaos is a worthy follow up to Victims of Deception, easily standing up to it in all aspects. Rest assured, it will mark highly on my tops list at the end of the year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
August 24th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Jeff Kent

    LOVE this record!! I say 2010 is the year of the Thrash Revival. Nice to see Kragen added to the lineup, his other band Prototype is good too.

    I have one of the original Heathen demos that I brought from an ad in the back of Ron Quintana’s old SF ‘zine.


  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    I still think Heathen’s “The Goblins Blade” has one of the tastiest thrash riffs ever


  3. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    Sounds like this band is up my alley…they must have slipped under my radar at some point ! “The Goblins Blade” is one of the best song titles I’ve ever heard !


  4. Commented by: Jodi

    I picked up a used copy of Victims of Deception a while back and totally dug it, but had no idea they were coming up with new material. Definitely have to check the new one out.


  5. Commented by: Crow

    Bought this disc a while back, the same time as new Exodus and Overkill. Love ’em all but this one really took me by surprise. Top shelf thrash.


  6. Commented by: stevhan the invincible

    well that’t three of my main intrests in one band+albumname: heathen, evolution, chaos and it’s supposed to be forwar thinking old school thrash fucking metal. Why haven’t I checked this out yet?????
    ** makes note to self: bust head and shelve out the €€ **


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