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3 Years Later and Counting, It Still Kicks Ass! - 100%

pinpals, November 9th, 2008

Believe it or not, Heathen was actually a fairly popular thrash band back in the day, selling nearly 200,000 copies combined of their first two albums. Then the 90's happened and Heathen was all but forgotten, their albums long out of print. However, in 2002 or so, the band reformed and released an album of re-recordings and some cover songs, and just to be nice, decided to put their first two albums up on their web page for free (they're still there and still free by the way). Then a year later, Heathen released a demo, humbly titled "2005 Demo" and their reputation in underground metal circles sky-rocketed.

It's not hard to see why thrash purists go crazy about this demo. It has everything that made thrash what it is: the numerous riffs, the downright awesome solos and the crazy thrash breaks just to name a few. The thing is, Heathen has actually gotten BETTER with time. Not only did Heathen stop copying the sound that Metallica was doing at the time, David Godfrey has gotten better with age. His voice has matured and he no longer utilizes the half-singing, half yelping of the earlier days. Here he sings with conviction without relying on the mediocre growling of modern thrash/metalcore vocalists (Imagine how much better modern Exodus would be if they had chosen Godfrey instead of Rob Dukes). Also, Heathen benefits from a far better sound than they had in the 80's. This sounds like it was released on a major label, the production is so good. The guitars are heavy as all hell and everything is clear and crisp.

Lee Altus is still the main songwriter for the band, and there's excellent chemistry between Altus's guitar playing and Godfrey's singing. Altus is a world-class shredder and has crammed more quality riffs on this demo than Megadeth had in the entire decade of the 90's. The drumming is solid; fast yet never showy. Ira Black is a good second guitarist, but Altus is the one that really shines throughout.

The CD copy of this demo that I received from a friend has a different tracklisting than I have seen listed as the "official tracklist." My copy has "Empty Nothingness" first, "Dying Season" second and "Arrows of Agony" third. This order seems to sound the best, as "Empty Nothingness" is the fast kick-ass opener, "Dying Season" is the centerpiece and "Arrows of Agony" is the slightly slower, groovier closer. The reason that there is no set track listing is because the songs can be downloaded on the band's forum, which can be accessed through their website. Best of all, it's completely free!!!

Even though this demo is only three songs, these are arguably the best songs of Heathen's career and "Dying Season" and even "Empty Nothingness" rank among the best thrash songs ever written. And these songs were released BEFORE it was trendy to write Exodus and Anthrax ripoffs and dress like its 1985 again. And Heathen is not just writing songs that sound like they could have been written in 1986, they've added a modern touch to the songs that seperates them from the hordes of neo-thrash bands popping up.

Even though Lee Altus has joined Exodus, the band is currently recording a full-length to be released sometime in early 2009. If this demo is any indication, their upcoming album will wipe the floor with all the "comebacks" of the big-time thrash bands that are being released now that metal is cool again.

Bring on the Next album, lads! - 79%

Nhorf, September 5th, 2008

After passing several years without releasing any album, Heathen decided to release a demo in 2005... and guess what? It absolutely kicks ass! Why Heathen don't release more records remains a mistery to me. Really.

Well, about the songs, they are all very well written and the performances of the musicians are stellar.The three tunes contain also interesting structures, they are definitely not straight-forward thrash songs: take “Dying Season” for a quick example, with its quiet intro, the song later getting faster and faster, with several tempo changes and different sections. The drumming is very competent, not overly technical but pretty damn good, the bass isn't that audible but it's still there and the vocals, well, the vocal performance is much much better than the one on, say, “Victims of Deception” and that's saying something. The singer isn't trying to sing melodically anymore, now his voice is definitely rawer and more aggressive, which fits better with the chaotic music.

Now about the guitars... they rule! Gosh, the riffs are especially awesome, catchy and heavy at the same time... Compare the riffs of “Arrows of Agony” with the riffset of all the songs on Slayer's “Christ Ilusion”, or with the riffs of every song Anthrax released recently, or with every riff of Megadeth's “United Abominations” and you'll laugh... Heathen is, nowadays, way way better than those bands I assure you, at least guitar-wise.

So, every song is very solid in its own way, but my favourite possibly is “Empty Nothingness”, with its awesome outro and proggy middle section. The choruses are all worth mentioning too, they are all very very catchy, which doesn't surprise me since Heathen is a band that really knows how to write addictive choruses. The production is also fairly good.

Concluding, a worth getting demo, great great thrash metal, pretty aggressive at times, but also very melodic. Recommended.

Best Moments of the CD:
-the beginning of “Dying Season”.
-the outro of “Empty Nothingness”.

Best Thrash since the 80's, hands down! - 90%

Xeogred, February 18th, 2007

When I first heard this demo, I was left completely speechless through the whole 20 minutes of it. Was I dreaming? This album sounds so much like late 80's / 1990's thrash its not even funny. And its absolutely incredible stuff. Heathen, has always been a band in their own world. Their style is quite possibly the best form of a speed / thrash combination you will ever hear, period. Its melodic thrash at its mere perfection.

So, you haven't heard these tracks? Or wait, their other albums either?
Demo - http://www.heathenmetal.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=369
Albums - http://www.heathenmetal.com/main/media.html

Yes, you can download those. Yes, that's Heathen's official site. Yes, those are all complete songs at their highest quality. Their entire discography, including this new 2005 Demo for download. Completely -free-. Who else does this? Seriously? For that my respect for this band is already explosive enough. And well, if Heathen manages to put out a full length album sounding anything like this demo, my respect for them will be completely off the charts. 16+ years later and we could have something that would fit along side "Breaking the Silence" and "Victims of Deception" flawlessly. Yeah, there's been bands out there who have put out incredible EP's, but then somehow that material doesn't end up on their albums and the albums suck, but I highly doupt that'll be the case here with Heathen. They are 110 percent pure speed/thrash in its truest form.

I know I haven't spoken much about the actual demo here, but there's really not much I can say other than, this is just flat out awesome 80's thrash gods Heathen making the greatest comeback ever. These three tracks you get are mindblowing. The production and the sound of everything is also very remiscent of early thrash, but slightly more crisp and clearer. David White hasn't aged a bit, and in fact, his singing seems even better and more well polished than it has ever been. Really, what other thrash bands are still active putting out decent thrash thesedays besides Overkill? I absolutely cannot wait for Heathen's next full length album, with this I can just tell its not going to let me down at all!

who else in the Bay Area is gonna top this? - 100%

overkill67, September 1st, 2006

This may very well be the best Thrash Metal songs that I've heard since the late eighties and very early nineties. Heathen have basically started right where they left off with Victims of Deception. Gary Holt eat your heart out! You see Gary, you don't need a Lamb of God styled mallcore singer to maintain longevity...you just need good fucking songs! And good fucking songs is exactly what Heathen have created once again.

Unfortunately there are only 3 tracks to be found here, but let me remind you all that not a single second, note, vocal delivery, drum beat or bass line is anything less than pure thrash metal brilliance. If this is sign of what is to come from this band in the near future then I would not be surprised to see these guys in a headlining slot somewhere over in Europe.

The musicianship on this demo is simply divine. The guitar duo of Altus and Lauderdale, puts all others to shame. There is absolutely no other guitar team working today with the ability to shred like these two fret burners. Anyway who tries to challenge this statement with the likes of Trivium should shoot themselves right in the fuckin' head...this is REAL shredding!

And the rest of the band is pretty fuckin' narly too! Minter's feet are stupid fast, and the drum patters are mind boggling. Dave's vocals are a tad bit harsher than they were on VOD, but that hasn't affected the melodic aspect of his voice, check it out for yourself...you'll see. As for good ol' Jon Torres, he always delivers the goods, and with Jon's input being welcomed into Heathen's ranks, if certain that these guys will once again, soon be carrying the torch of thrash. The bar as been set!

Midget-raping Season! - 90%

UltraBoris, October 11th, 2005

so which of the recently reformed thrash bands sounds the most old-school? That's right, kids, it's Heathen, whose new demo sounds like something that was put into Rip Van Cryostasis two decades ago, and just surfaced.

"sure Marge, it's not 1985 now, but who knows what tomorrow might bring!"

and here, today, is 1985. Or so. Well, it's probably more 1990 in production, but definitely 1985 in style, with screaming solo after screaming solo courtesy of Lee Altus and Terry Lauderdale. One of these guys is new to the band, but fuck, these solos are so tight, you couldn't tell which one...

Yep, this drinks heavily from the enormous phallic fountain that is NWOBHM, but it's straight fucking melodic speed-thrash through and through. In any damn case, it's the correct side of 1993, that's for damn sure.

we've got three songs here, sounding more like Victims than Breaking, but hey, in any case, it's the Heathen we've grown to know and love and shout obnoxious things at from the front row. The highlight is probably Dying Season, which definitely has the Mark of Torres on there, featuring that Ulysses Siren riff around 3.52 (see: "No Trace of Shame", 2:09... and while we're at it, that Laaz Rockit song from Nothing's Sacred). Indeed, if you've got a good riff, milk it... check out that fucking thrash break.

Seriously, check out that fucking thrash. This is the band that is leading the comeback. I hate to say it but the new Overkill sucks (you cockfaces!). Even Regurgitated Cow Fetus sold out... but the new Heathen is looking like it'll blow your head apart. Prepare the large boner of thrash!

I'm not going to go on anymore, because this isn't the sort of thing where you have to make an economic choice - should you get the new album, or should you keep your $16 in cash? Why no... IT'S FREE!

Communism and thrash!!

You have absolutely no excuse whatsoever... if you can read this review, you have a web browser. So, get your ass over to this link:

http://www.heathenmetal.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=369

They've still got it, even after these many years. - 99%

Fatal_Metal, September 24th, 2005

Heathen rule. Just bow down to this band's generosity, first off they put up all their albums for download and now they have even given us their demo FREE. The only other band who I know have done this are Anacrusis but I bet they wouldn't be giving their new material even if a demo free. All thrash bands must be underground like this, though not giving up whole albums - they should be good enough to offer two tracks and a video! Well then, lets go on to the music.

1987 was a stellar year for thrash as Heathen released their first album breaking the Silence. Breaking The Silence was a perfect lesson in catchy, speedy, brutal thrash that had a good Metallica influence on it. Heathen luckily didn't follow Metallica's steps and end up in shit like they are now. After that, Heathen released the more melodic and experimental Victims of Deception while still sticking to their roots. Heathen were the darlings of the underground and then suddenly split for not apparent reason and now they're back with a new demo and lets just say they did what others thought impossible - IMPROVE.

First off, lets analyze the improvements:-

Guitars: Heathen's production has improved two-folds here. Excellent guitar tone employed and the brutality surpasses both the previous albums. The Metallica influence is still here but Heathen have far surpassed their influences.
Vocals - The vocals were sometimes the weak-spot in Heathen albums as they were just too choked up at times but now this guy is really able to sing even though he prefers staying in the mid-range. Yes, there is Hetfield imitation here, but this guy is what Hetfied x 100 would be.
Both drums and bass are classic Heathen as seen on the two albums.

There isn't anything wrong with all the three songs in here. The material put on display here is more of a Breaking the Silence vibe while keeping the melody of Victims of Deception. If Heathen keep songs as good in their full-length, this would end up a classic!

The demo (order I put it in) starts with Arrows of Agony which immediately punches you in the face with its brutality. Any person who's heard the previous Heathen albums would immediately notice the improvements. When you hear the "Arrows of agony are FALLING!" you just got to be amazed unless you’re mentally retarded. Then follows Dying Season which is the best song here, it starts off with an excellent acoustic solo and then some Arabic guitar harmonies while retaining the brutal edge, the catchiest chorus Heathen ever made is here, oh Did he say "Fire"??? This is The Timeless Cell of Prophecy right here except catchier and heavier. The last track Empty Nothingness is superb, the background guitar solo there in the intro just flows so well. This is the most brutal song on the demo riffing right through you before you can say anything and the vocals are done excellently with a lot of desperation and emotion shown here. An excellent break at 3:23 that keeps up the atmosphere and an excellent solo to follow. Can Heathen do any wrong??

Suddenly the demo ends and leaves you just drooling for more. You'd put it on again instantly like me just to try and satisfy your taste till Heathen releases an album this year. The next album (which I expect in 2006) is bound to be the album of the year unless someone releases something out of this world or Heathen makes a mistake (which is hard to think of). So, if you didn't get this demo yet - please do!! How cheap could you get? An excellent demo up for free on a site and you don’t have it? That means your an excuse for a metalhead, please leave this site right away. I want EVERY single self-respecting metal fan to be backing Heathen for their next release.

Get now - http://www.heathenmetal.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=369

This is pure thrash metal! - 97%

MorbidAtheist666, September 23rd, 2005

This demo is pure thrash metal! The sound production on this demo is top notch. Heathen has put together some really good songs. Heathen is one of the only true thrash metal bands out there that still sound thrashy. Every aspect of this demo is awesome. The guitar work, the vocals, the bass work and the drums are extremely impressive.

Empty Nothingness is a great song. It starts off the demo quite nicely. The bass sounds really good at the 2:52 mark of this song. The guitar solo sounds really good as well. Dying Season is another good song. It has a pretty interesting intro. The vocals are great on this song. There are two guitar solos on this one. The first one starting at around the 3:27 mark is the best one. It's short and sweet guitar solo. The final song, Arrows of Agony is a really pounding thrash metal song with really good guitar work and good vocals. None of these songs sound like shit at all.

Every song on here is what you would expect from Heathen. A lot of great guitar work is found on this demo. This demo is not a let down. This is without a doubt the best newest material from an old thrash metal band. It's rare that old thrash metal bands actually put something out that sounds like thrash metal these days. This is pure thrash metal and thrash metal fans will not be disappointed with this demo. Heathen fans will be happy to know that they didn't change their sound on this demo. It really does sound like it would be from 1991. If this demo sounds really great, I'm sure the new Heathen album will sound just as good as this or better.

Back with vengeance - 97%

cyclone, September 21st, 2005

97%? Yeah, 97. If this was released in 1992, it would be a great follow-up to VoD, and I would give it a 93% or something. But guys, check out the date of the demo... It's 2005, the year in which Exodus released Shovel Headed Kill Machine, in which Nuclear Assault put out Third World Genocide and so on. Those albums suck. But this, on the other hand, TOTALLY FUCKING RULES!
Heathen seems to be the only band nowadays that sticks to it's guns and is proud to play true headsplitting old school thrash. And that's absolutely the right thing to do. This is the only logical successor to Victims Of Deception. Hell, these tracks wouldn't even sound out of place on that record.

Probably the first thing that goes through your mind when you play Empty Nothingness is: ''WOW, check out that guitar tone''. Fuck yeah, this demo has an excellent production. The guitar tone is total thrash (not to polished, but clear, crisp and damn pounding) and the rest of the band is nicely put in the mix. Speaking of which, the whole band is really tight.
I mean, Lee's leads and riffs are dead on, Dave sings better than ever, bass is really nicely done and Darren is a monster behind the kit. All three songs are trademark Heathen. Pounding riffs, melodic verses, sing-a-long chorus, long and catchy solos. The highlight of the demo would still probably be ''Dying Season'' with it's middle easternish intro and riff, instant catchiness and a great thrash break.

I really can't wait for the new Heathen record. This is as good as it gets nowadays. If the whole record will be like this, it'll easily be the best stuff since, I don't know, 1993? GO HEATHEN!

Ah yes... - 99%

Nerothos, September 1st, 2005

Wow... just wow. This demo contains what I'm prepared to call the best music since... well, Heathen's '91-release, Victims of Deception.

Quite a few old thrash-bands are releasing new albums they like to call "Thrash Metal" nowadays, Exodus, Destruction, Kreator, Nuclear Assault etc.
Well, only a few of them actually succeed. Destruction made half an album of pure ownage, and Nuclear Assault still have some sweet riffs. The others were mediocre to say the least.
And then... along came Heathen. Lee Atlus should have all of the American colleges' football squads fellating him all day long simply because of "Breaking the Silence" and "Victims of Deception", but no, that wasn't enough satisfaction for him.
Instead, he wrote three new tracks which he had the band record for an internet-release.

Now, these are definitely not your ordinary "modern thrash" tunes. This here is pure fucking speed metal topped with some insanely heavy (HEAVY, _not_ groovy) thrash riffs that will make you break your neck over and over and over again. Health insurance not included with download.

First we have the tune "Empty Nothingness", some classic Heathen semi-technical riffage to begin with. Then a slightly shy-ish harmonised solo... and then comes the SHRED. Heathen have always had the best soloing around when it comes to Bay Area-bands, only challenged by the likes of Lääz Rockit, and this intro shows why. Then come the riffs... ah yes, the riffs. Long time no see there, how was your decade?
The chorus is perfect, insanely catchy AND brutal. No pussy metalcore crap here, only full speed d-beat thrashing along with the great riff and the insanely well-sounding vocals to be found in these few bars. And while we're at it, that goes for basically any bar of this demo. Occassionaly, Heathen slow down and let the sheer genious of the melodies take over. Not that it stops me from banging my head (as if up from the dead).

Then we have track #2, "Dying Season". Having listened the shit out of this song for quite a while now and fearing what the "properly mixed" version was going to sound like, all of my doubts were shot numb when the sitar-sounding intro gets completely DESTROYED by the guitar tone here. Nope, we won't find any shitty "modern" (á la Tempo of the Damned) production here either. This sounds like thrash simply needs to sound, clear, heavy and aggressive at the same time.
Now of course, the production isn't the only part of this song that I'm going to mention in this review, because there is something else here you won't find on your latest metalcore purchase.
"Yes, Jim? Do you know the answer we are looking for?" - "Why, yes I do Mr. Satan sir, the answer would appear to be 'insanely fucking thrashing RIFFS'!"
In the above example, the game contestant is quite a winner. Yes, we have riffs. Riffs based on harmonic minor scales tend to sound quite generic, but nope, no failure this time either.
This song is catchy, features insane soloing, has d-beat all over the place kicking those triplets around and contains some pretty damn flawless vocal delivery.

Lastly, we have "Arrows of Agony". Did you say NWOBMH? No? Are you deaf? Well, that explains it. This here is basically pre-thrash, but executed in such a way that it still sounds like brutal, neckbreaking thrash. And it has riffs. Riffs that make you drool until your brain dies of dehydration (not like that will stop you from headbanging to this). The verse really keeps the listener at bay by always sounding like it's about to go back to the root chord of the key, but not doing so until it's over. Then comes the most catchy and ballcrushing pre-chorus I have heard in my entire life. I had this part of the song stuck in my head for two weeks after initially hearing this song. It leads into another kick-ass chorus. Then we have the interlude. It has more riffs, and the best soloing this side of... well... there is actually no comparison when it comes to thrash, this IS the best soloing out there.
If you need a guitar hero, pick Lee Atlus. Simple as that.

I can simply not wait until these songs end up on an album full of other insanely great speed/thrash tunes. I had almost lost all hope of old bands releasing great new thrash, but Heathen came back, and they destroyed. Everything.

Now go download this demo right away, or I will hunt you down and kick you in the face. Twice. No, wait, make that a "plus one" order.