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First Strike by Heathen - 90%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, August 21st, 2008

My personal excursus through the most underrated bands ever in metal continues with another thrash one that, back in the 80s, never received the right credit for the music its musicians were able to do. The name is Heathen. They’ve always been on the edge between the semi-underground state and the final, deserved consecration as one of the greatest acts in this genre back in those years. As you know, lots of times “luck” doesn’t go well with “value” and, when lots of bands were conquering the scene with their weak and dull music, this valorous band never gave up, continuing in doing what was the best for them: thrash metal.

Breaking The Silence is the first output by this group of valid musicians and features a very good blend of speed metal and thrash. The technique level of these young guys is unbelievable for their age and helps in making always good and catchy compositions that take inspiration from thrash for the tempo parts and from the speed metal when it concerns the vocals and some riffs, united to the use of melody. The various tracks are quite long and they show a considerable maturity because there are not fillers and everything is studied to be as catchy and dynamic as possible.

For example, check to galloping, melodic and fast main riff on “Goblin’s Blade” that is repeated more or less all over the song. It’s never boring or derivative and the guitars solos are perfectly stuck, in their melody, in the song’s heaviest rhythmic guitars part. It’s perfect to break the impact. Other interesting things to notice are the introductions to the first three songs: they are always quite mid-paced or, at least, not a part that is repeated during the effective length. They are all particular and quite similar. Personally, I love these parts because when the fast tempo enters immediately after, it conquers more power than if it was done immediately.

“Pray for Death” is the first simpler song here because the structure is dry out from all those technical parts to point on the pure straight riffage and the speed of the always melodic vocals. They are always precise and compact but this time the riffs are more “in your face” like the one in the middle that prepared the solo. By the way, even if the structure is simpler, the quality and the technical side of the band is always well shown through the not so simple riffs, plus added to speed.
The Sweet cover “Set me Fee” is not band but not necessary if we want. The chorus is very good but the Iron Maiden style guitars duet at the beginning of the title track is far better.

As we go on, the intensity grows and the galloping riffs are always precise and intense, thanks also to a production that, even not being so exceptional, is always pounding and perfect for the devotees of the 80s sounds. “World’s End” is one of those awesome thrash ballads with the melodic beginning by the guitars (arpeggios and lead guitars) and the return to aggression in the second part with fast parts and good, catchy speed metal melodic lines. “Save the Skull” is a massacre under the sign of thrash metal but it is always filtrated through technique and the sense of melody that binds together all these songs. The guitars duets in the middle are perfectly done.

The last “Heathen” can be considered the most introspective song here. It features arpeggios by the beginning and mid-paced tempo. It’s good like this because when a CD pointed on the speed for all the length (except for “Open The Grave” song), a calmer song is required. Anyway, even if it lasts for almost 7 seconds, it’s always quite enjoyable. What I found a bit naff are the melodic choirs but the music is always great and the fast part to sustain the solo is well done. All in all, a very good debut by this band. The first three songs are the best ones but generally, the entire album is enjoyable and never sinks.

Heathen here were not already so “technical thrash” as on their second album but they rock anyway. I recommend this album to anyone who wants to hear good music, first of all, and of course to all the fellow thrashers!