Heaven Shall Burn
Whatever It May Take

As metalcore shape-shifts every month, the borders of the genre continually expand, absorbing death and thrash metal, jazz, fusion, hardcore and every other music genre it decides to take on. Death metal in sound and hardcore in attitude, Germany’s Heaven Shall Burn are one such metalcore outfit, whose sound is more reflective of Amon Amarth’s epic stagger than the jagged, obtuse songwriting of their peers.

The band’s second full-length, Whatever It May Take, eschews their previous mix of Earth Crisis and Bolt Thrower for one that seems wholeheartedly Amon Amarth (The Avenger) and Desultory (Into Eternity) in texture and style – it’s a focused attack, one that doesn’t feel like two bands vying for control. Although, in terms of musicianship Heaven Shall Burn aren’t quite up to par with their Nordic counterparts, Whatever It May Take’s energetic approach to death metal pulses with more vibrancy than The Avenger.

The most notable difference between the two bands is the lyrical approach. Whereas Amon Amarth venture into Nordic myth and history, Heaven Shall Burn’s tackle racism and Veganism. Certainly, this isn’t very metal, but combine the band’s fiery attack with such lyrical conviction and it’s bound to show. Beginning with a filmscore prologue, the “The World’s In Me’s” sweeping epic nature is hemmed together with short and precise melodic sections that are as much hardcore breakdowns as they are impetuous headbanging markers. Unlike many counterparts both European and not, Heaven Shall Burn never fail to shy away from heightened moments of tension, characterized by brief blasting, intense riffing and unbridled vocal spurts. Crafty twists of Amon Amarth and Burnt By The Sun flickering atop a powder keg, “The Martyrs’ Blood” and “Ecowar” are two such tracks. Both tracks have obvious hiccups in the arrangement department, but it’s the sheer level of intensity in which they’re employed that deserves mention. On other songs, such as “It Burns Within,” “The Few Upright” and the title track, the Germans parlay the greats of Swedish death (God Macabre, Dismember, etc.) into studied broad swings of chug-n’-reflect metal. Heaven Shall Burn even add shades of atmospheric keyboards into the title track for diversity, which for the most part work in the context of Whatever It May Take. Personally, what I find in Heaven Shall Burn’s music that’s missing in other current extreme music genres is the ability to include slower, dirge-like pieces that invariably add a sense of depth to an otherwise linear form of metal.

Even though the Swedes are largely credited for it, there’s an Autopsy-meets-Paradise Lost flavor to “Naked Among the Wolves” and “Casa de Cabocio.” Here, the tough musical attitude is projected inward and the result not only shows maturity from previous album Asunder, but also a willingness to incorporate different styles and successfully employ them. This is ultimately indicative of the ‘classic version’ of “Implore the Darken Sky,” where vocalist Marcus does his best to emulate Dan Swano (Moontower) and Jonas Renkse (Discouraged Ones), and after the initial shock the whole affair works. If Heaven Shall Burn developed this further, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine the band toppling the quagmire that is European metal.

While I definitely wouldn’t give Heaven Shall Burn’s Whatever It May Take a perfect score (few albums deserve such an honor), I know that the level of progression only signals better things. Fans of the death metal albums mentioned earlier are advised to check out Whatever It May Take while those always at the cusp of everything that is metalcore will already be thinking death metallers are foolish for not knowing about Heaven Shall Burn.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Dick
April 3rd, 2001

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