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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.