Heaven Shall Burn
Of Truth & Sacrifice

Germany’s metalcore/death metal veterans have always been one of those bands I kinda like. I own quite a few of their prior 12 albums, but I don’t think I have listened to them fully,  and I pick  them up used if I happen to find them rather than instantly buy them or seek them out. In fact, of their 12 albums up to now, we have only covered 3 here at TOTD; their 2000 debut Asunder, 2001s, Whatever it May Take, and 2008s Iconoclast.And I covered none of them, so what better place to start than a 2 disc, 100 minute monster of a release.

I’m a little familiar with Heaven Shall Burn‘s ambitiousness, as I own their last album, 2016s 58 minute disc Wanderer, but Of Truth & Sacrifice blows that away with basically 2 full albums in one. I’ll admit I was drawn in by the striking Eliran Kantor artwork, and the tragic video for “My Heart and the Ocean”,  and thought I’d give this a go. And I have to say, with all the seemingly increased instrumental ambition and political/social/environmental furor, and the more tempered second disc, I now finally come away from Of Truth & Sacrifice, with Heaven Shall Burn as a band I more than just kinda like.

Disc one, Truth appears to be the more traditional HSB disc with 10 tracks of crisp, stern metalcore meets melodic death metal and the occasional Bolt Thrower rumble that the band became famous for in the mid 00s. The likes of early tracks “Thoughts and Prayers”, “Eradicate” and “Protector”, all deliver the same sort of rumbling angry song the band has delivered for a number of years and albums now. However, around “Übermacht”, we get a bit of programming, a Rammstein-ish stomp and some nice melodic leads then the aforementioned “My Heart and the Ocean”, which could be an Amon Amarth song and then we get the 8 minute “Expatriate”, with a lovely piano/cello intro before the song explodes into a dramatic, orchestral/spoken word ballad. Then its back to the militant Bolt Thrower rumble returns for “What War Means” and standard melodic metalcore tropes of “Terminate the Unconcern” and orchestral outro “The Ashes of My Enemies”.

While disc 1 by itself is OK, and arguably stand alone as a solid HSB release, Disc 2, Sacrifice, adds just a little more melody, experimentation,  introspection and variety, but still is Heaven Shall Burn. Starting with “Children of a Lesser God”, with an opening riff that could be from any recent In Flames album then “La Résistance”, like “Übermacht”, has a Rammstein-like, industrial beat and electronica break.  “The Sorrows of Victory”, is a somber, hymnal , partly clean sung number befitting the title. “Stateless” is a furious melodic death metal number akin to At The Gates, but then there is a couple of typically samey HSB is rumblers in “Tirpitz”,  “Truther” and “Eagles Among Vultures”. However, the album closes with “Weakness Leaving My Heart”,  a killer, orchestral laden ballad that ends the opus perfectly, and a style I hope the band fully embrace even further in the future.

Of note, there is another cover on this album (the band’s cover of Blind Guardian‘s “Valhalla” actually got me into Blind Guardian and My Dying Bride‘s “The Cry of Mankind” from Wanderer’s special edition extra disc remains one of my favorite cover songs) and on the Sacrifice disc, here we have a cover of Nuclear Assault’s “Critical Mass”

Ultimately, what you get there is two solid Heaven Shall Burn albums in one, but that said, I’m still not completely enamored with them, nor do I crave their songs or albums to throw on and listen to on a whim. Still, when something from Of Truth & Sacrifice shows up on my mp3 player, Ill bang by head and enjoy it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 6th, 2020


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