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The Production - 79%

StainedClass95, August 3rd, 2014

This is Heathen's comeback album. I enjoy their first two releases, but I honestly didn't have high hopes for this. It's seldom even for an elite band to maintain songwriting into middle-age. This isn't a masterpiece, but it definitely surprised me. There's a couple of problems, but nothing crippling. The performances by the band members are strong, and the music seems focused. This essentially furthers the direction began on Victims, so if you hated that, this may not work for you.

I'll start with the worst aspect on display, the production. This is production of the clean, sterile kind, and it is very displeasing. This isn't as bad as some of what Evile has unleashed upon the unsuspecting, but it's still far from ideal. Music like this doesn't need rough production, not at all, but this is too clean. This still needs to have a little grit to it, which this doesn't. As well, I don't like the drum sound. It seems to have a slight rattle and is generally too loud. As to the mix itself, the rest is pretty good. I can hear each instrument during most parts, and their sound is better than the drums.

The other problem is the length, and the way it is used. This is a pretty long album. There aren't too many instances where I'm going to want to kill a solid stretch of time this long with one album. The second aspect, is much of what goes inside. There is a good deal of slower parts, and some of this works very well. The problem is when there is a stretch of a couple of minutes where the slow stuff that's going on is pretty boring. As well, the production takes away my ability to judge speed. Most older thrash has similar production, and I can judge the relative motion. I'm not as well-versed in the modern thrash, what I've heard is average at best, so I don't really know many times when it's speeding up or slowing down. Also, Hero's welcome just doesn't work for me. It is just not very interesting and seems to be the bland song of the bunch.

On the good side, the guitar riffs are still good. Altus is still a talented player, and the music is well-written. The bass is quite audible for most of the album, and that is always a good sign. I mentioned the drums, and the playing isn't much better. He's not bad, just very stock. Is it so much to ask for some fills? On the vocals, they're definitely deeper. They aren't low exactly, but he doesn't sound like someone who would even possess a high range. There is an occasional odd line in a higher-pitch, but not many. The vocals are still good, but not as good. The lyrics are somewhat interesting. They seem a tad more creative than they were in their youth, but not by much.

For a comeback album, this is one of the best. This is much better than what any of the big four, teutonic trio, etc have done in years. It's somewhat impressive to see a band that wasn't particularly big in their prime make a good album later in life. This won't rewrite history or make them into a more highly thought of band than those, but it definitely increases my respect for them. All together, I would recommend this to a fan of thrash or early metal.

The evolution is gradual, the chaos is not. - 84%

hells_unicorn, June 3rd, 2011

Thrash metal tends to be a lot like mainstream American politics. While you generally have a more complex situation than the media advertized two-party system, most bands fall into the category of being either liberal or conservative. The analogy can be a bit tenuous at times, but there is a good case to be made that particularly with the resurgence of old school thrash in the past 7 or 8 years that the once progressive concept of modernity in thrash metal is receiving an old guard challenge. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is how the original pioneers of the style are choosing to sound, seeing the likes of Death Angel, Megadeth and Overkill keeping up a more traditional sound, while Machine Head and Metallica are playing with the latest flavor of the month. Heathen could be qualified as among the more predictable of the former category, yet have found an intricate way of communicating their older style through a newer template.

Speaking purely from musical content, “The Evolution Of Chaos” isn’t really all that much of a far cry from “Victims Of Deception”, at least no more so than “Killbox 13” and “Ironbound” are from “Horrorscope”. The same massive collection of riffs, occasional references to Iron Maiden in melodic instrumental breaks, and the tendency towards long and drawn out songwriting is all but identical to the band’s early 90s classic. The break with the past comes primarily through the production job, which has that raucously loud, heavy on the drums and slightly heavier on the guitars approach to mixing that actually gets to be a bit much at times. Similarly, David White’s vocal interpretation is a good deal more gritty and rough, almost to the point of occasionally sounding like Phil Anselmo circa “Cowboys From Hell” or early 90s era James Hetfield, which seems to be more the trend among thrash revival bands nowadays. He still gets up there at times, but the proto-speed/thrash character in the image of Joey Belladonna heard on “Breaking The Silence” is noticeably absent.

For the most part, by modern thrash standards, this is a pretty conservative offering that seems almost as heavily influenced by pre-thrash heavy metal and even a few hard rock outfits that were prominent in the lead up to the NWOBHM era as it is by the iron fisted gauntlet of the Bay Area. Right from the mysterious, sitar drenched prelude simply dubbed “Intro” there is a strong helping of classic Rainbow influences (think “Gates Of Babylon”) that segues right into a glorious fury of earth shaking riff work in “Dying Season”. Similar exercises in skull bludgeoning brilliance with an emphasis on speed and anger include “Bloodkult” and “Silent Nothingness”, which are all among the most pure and orthodox versions of thrash metal to be found on here. But even when veering into half-ballad territory such as in “Red Tears Of Disgrace”, the aggression is still consistently present, though in a somewhat slower package.

There isn’t really anything on here to speak of that is categorically bad, but unlike in the case of “Victims Of Deception”, a few mixed bags emerge from a slight sense of overambitious songwriting. The worst offender in this department is “A Hero’s Welcome”, which largely goes back to some of those experimental ballad ideas that Metallica was playing with on their middle era releases. Unfortunately the song is repetitive and more of a straight up metal ballad without any sense of triumph, like an ambitious reinterpretation of a military funeral march with a slightly longer length. “No Stone Unturned” somehow manages to get away with throwing in a groove riff that sounds almost hypnotic enough to have been heard on “Far Beyond Driven”, and somehow manages to wander through a intricate barrage of mid-tempo riffs before suddenly exploding into a melodic instrumental fest that sounds dangerously similar to Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. Not a bad song per say, but needlessly long and suffering from just a few too many ideas being thrown together.

For a band that has been gone from the scene for the better part of 18 years, this is about as impressive of a comeback album that I’ve seen since Rainbow’s “Stranger In Us All”. It is about as close to the old days of the 80s as it can get without actually being an overt attempt at reliving the past (aka Fueled By Fire, Skull Hammer and a few others). But more than anything else, it’s one of the better reasons why anyone who ever tells you that thrash is dead needs a good ass kicking, not to mention a way to do it with a nice bit of intelligence for a more precise infliction of damage.

Modern Thrash Done Right - 95%

Oblarg, December 5th, 2010

The cluttered and confused modern thrash scene is, unfortunately, quite full of misguided attempts to revive or outdo the classic thrash masterpieces of the 80's. Indeed, it would seem that the majority of the thrash albums of the past few years are either blatant and uninspired worship of the thrash gods of old, or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, slabs of forced aggression that often stray into the realm of self-parody. A few bands, however, have managed to navigate the path between these extremes and offer something new and refreshing while still maintaining a firm basis in the classic thrash that we all know and love. Heathen, with The Evolution of Chaos, have done just that, and in a truly spectacular fashion.

From the cleverly woven Sitar intro to the final fading moments of Silent Nothingness, Heathen's newest album offers over one hour of pure, solid thrash, overflowing with riffs and melodies to keep you positively riveted for the entire lengthy duration. Not only is the music here *really good*, but there is a *lot* of it. The excellently crafted songs are complemented by absolutely superb musicianship, from the intricate melodic riffs of Dying Season to the furious drumming of Bloodkult; Heathen’s music certainly hasn’t become any less technical. Yet where the individual parts of their former work never quite clicked together, The Evolution of Chaos flawlessly merges the technically demanding nature of the music with memorable hooks that their previous works often lacked. Adding to the vastly superior songwriting are the much-improved vocals of David White, who has ditched his earlier pseudo-USPM wailing in favor of a course (yet still melodic, when it needs to be), lower-register howl. The guitar solos are brilliant melodic flashes that always come when they're needed and never outstay their welcome, and the seemingly endless riffs are superbly crafted and memorable. The bass, too, has a few shining moments (especially in the 11-minute epic, No Stone Unturned).

Album pacing is very important for such a gargantuan monolith of thrash, and Heathen wisely never sit on one idea for too long - raging thrashers are followed by a semi-ballad or an epic, between the climaxes are more mid-paced stompers, and all are equally superb. The music itself is intricate and much more melodic than anything the band has previously done, even drawing some power metal influence from time to time (especially on Arrows of Agony), yet never compromising its identity as thrash metal. The quality is quite consistent – there is only one clunker here, and that is the cheesy “support our troops” ballad, A Hero’s Welcome, which is easily overlooked when you have such a vast quantity of superb songs music elsewhere on the album.

Where their contemporaries have floundered in mediocrity, Heathen has succeeded. The Evolution of Chaos is a superb thrash album; easily surpassing both their previous works and those of so many other, forgettable, second-rate modern thrash acts. If you’re anything near a fan of thrash metal (and if you’re not, why are you reading this review?), pick this one up.

Meanders on and on and on... - 39%

MacMoney, December 3rd, 2010

A long awaited savior - that's what Heathen's Evolution of Chaos was. With the Recovered compilation in 2004 and a demo the year after, a full album was told - and expected - to follow soon. However, it wasn't until 2009 that Evolution of Chaos saw daylight and unfortunately a savior it was not. Heathen joined the long ranks of the old thrash guard who should have just stayed disbanded or be content with performing live with their old material. With Evolution of Chaos the band doesn't bring anything new worthwhile to the table. The line-up is pretty much the same, Godfrey/White still in the vocals, Lee Altus writing on the guitar and Darren Minter on the drums. Only the second guitarist and bassist are new faces from their last full-length, Victims of Deception in 1991. The music itself hasn't progressed far from that album either. The band is satisfied to tread those same paths.

So the deal is lengthy compositions with a multitude of riffs, quite often with a melodic bent. The band does have a good ear for writing these more melodic riffs and passages, they rarely go wrong in that department. They're experts on the more soaring and epic sounding melodies that go well with their usually fast pace, but don't lose momentum at the slow intro pieces either like the intro of Control by Chaos. The melodies are always catchy and well though out as well as fitting for their parts. It's a shame they aren't utilized more. This melodicism was a big part of the draw of Victims of Deception. On Evolution of Chaos, the sense of melody has been utilized more in the form of more melodic riffs. A lot of the riffs are that as well as rather intricate, which sounds fairly good at first, but with a lot of these and the rather thin and artificial sounding guitar tone, the album ends up sounding not quite heavy or pounding enough. Often with the riff after riff approach, a certain heaviness is needed to bulk up the salad, but on Evolution of Chaos this is lacking. Especially when the guitars assume a heavily rhythmic and percussive part, they seriously lack punch and crunch, rendering them as just annoying baggage. There are times when the rhythm guitars combine with the drums to create a good rhythmic background for the vocals and lead guitar like in Red Tears of Disgrace, especially on the second half of the song.

David White's vocals form a big strike against the album as well. Previously his melodic vocals had a slight grit to them, like as to give them more roughness and character. However the almost twenty years haven't been so kind. Now his vocals are overpowered with gravel. He is still melodic and he has good control of his pitch, but the grit and gravel is clearly at the center of it. At times he utilizes his voice without it, but for some reason he and the band have decided to go with more attitude rather than what is fitting for their style. This sad fact renders one of the prior strengths of the band a weakness. Mostly his vocals are just an annoyance when it is clear to the listener that a more melodic approach would be far more suitable and that the vocalist could very well do that if he had just wanted to. Mostly he sings in mid-range and it almost sounds like he is singsongingly speaking the lyrics to the mic instead of actually singing. The highs are probably even worse though. He has to strain really hard to bring the gravely sound to the higher notes.

A lot of the time it sounds like the band is doing a re-take of Victims of Deception. The album has a very similar feel with the lengthy epic of Heathen's Song in No Stone Unturned and the ballad in A Hero's Welcome as well as the generally lengthy compositions with constant forward momentum. They've also felt it necessary to make the album over an hour long while clearly the material doesn't hold up that long though surprisingly the stronger songs have been placed near the end. Such lengthy compositions tend to end up resembling each other too much and an hour's worth of it is just too much. As it was with Prisoners of Fate, the ballad is again quite lame with its melodramaticism though Heathen have outperformed themselves in that department this time. A Hero's Welcome is full of sappy melodies in slow paces, but to top what they did the last time, they've added a patriotic speech - which admittedly might strike a chord with listeners of certain nationality - that takes the melodrama and sappiness to a whole new level. On a whole, Evolution of Chaos is not a hopeless album, but the fat really needs to be trimmed. There is good to be found in almost all songs (though forget about A Hero's Welcome), but unfortunately very few can stand a whole listen through.

A hero's return!! - 88%

ShadeOfDarkness, November 8th, 2010

Heathen is another one of those underground thrashers back in the 80's and the early 90's. They released two masterpieces: Breaking The Silence and Victims Of Deception. I would place these two albums on exactly the same level as Forbidden's first two. I look at these two bands as rivals, and therefore, you may notice that I may compare The Evolution Of Chaos to Forbidden's Omega Wave. But we need a little comparing sometimes right?

This album starts with an atmospheric intro, which plays the main riff in the first real song, Dying Season some times. It's a very fine transition between the intro and Dying Season. When you hear this, you are going to feel that the lust for headbanging is gonna build up, until you can't resist it anymore! Dying Season is one of the more brutal thrashers on the record. However, it also packs a good deal of melodic riffs and leads. Dave White seems to have practiced more on his screaming, as his vocals are more brutal than they used to be back in the day. But this is no negative thing, for he has sustained his melodic voice pretty well.

After Dying Season's rampage is over, we go right into another more melodic track. The intro riff can make you think that this is going to be a power metal song, but that changes pretty fast, as Dave's harsh voice fills your ears. This track is extremely long, and it's pretty easy to see why. There's about 2 minutes of pure soloing a little later on where Gary Holt from Exodus has a guest appearance. He does an absolutely awesome job at making this song even better, and well worth the lenght!

Something special about Heathen is that many of their songs are very long. If you've already read some reviews for this album, you may have noticed that the other reviewers have said the exact same thing. Well, it's true. Heathen's songs are longer than Forbidden's songs. Although their new album also lasts for over an hour.

Dave White can sing. There's no doubt about that. But he's still not as good as Forbidden's Russ Anderson. They can sing pretty harshly, but Dave's voice isn't quite as strong as Russ'. So if you want thrash with extremely good vocals, you'll have to get Omega Wave and Flotsam & Jetsam's The Cold. The strange thing about those two albums is that Russ Anderson and Eric A.K. from Flotsam has VERY similar voices. If you haven't listened to them before, you can't tell them apart. However, if you want more solos, and generally better guitar playing, then Heathen is the band for you. I know that what I just said may convince you all to get this album, but Forbidden's Omega Wave is just as good!

What Heathen also lacks is variation. Many of the songs are a bit too similar, especially due to the fact that every song is played in E, except for A Hero's Welcome, which is played in A. Forbidden experimented a little more with different notes, as you can read in my review for that album. The reason this album is just as good is because of the awesome guitar playing.

Some songs on this album (No Stone Unturned) are a little too long, and can become boring. No Stone Unturned is eleven minutes long, and that's a little too far in my opinion. Some sections are repeated too many times, but again, the riffs are so awesome that it's worth it!

Well, I guess I've said my exact opinion of this album. If you want some quality new thrash, then get your fucking hands on this! It's like Dave White says... Leave no stone unturned!!

December 23, 2009: The day the world shit itself - 99%

MalikArcanum, June 10th, 2010

I was lucky enough to be the first person in North America to have this album, receiving it on Christmas from Lee Altus himself, so I’ve had a little longer to ruminate on it than most. Overall, I’d have to say this is the best Thrash album of the last decade, even though it came out in the 00’s twilight hours.

The album starts off with Dying Season, after a lengthy Sitar intro. Most Heathen fans know this song from then excellent 2005 Demo, where it was lauded to be the best Thrash song since the glory days. I must say, this song is incredible, with it’s Middle-Eastern touches, but it seems to have lost a little of it’s magic during the transition from demo to album. Next, you have Control By Chaos, a straight forward thrasher. Nothing too remarkable about it. After that comes the epic No Stone Unturned. I feel this song is very good, but slightly overstays it’s welcome, lasting 11 minutes.


On the demo, I couldn’t believe how much David White’s vocals had improved. On Breaking The Silence & Victims Of Deception Dave was decent, but he was definitely the weak link in the band. His Power Metal screams sometimes grating with the Progressive Thrash sound of the rest of the band, but on the 2005 Demo, his voice had matured greatly, gaining a slightly gravelly tone, while still being able to hit the high notes. However, on the album, his upper range seems to have slightly deteriorated in the previous 5 years, & he now seems to be going for a Hetfield-esque growl. But, I’m nitpicking. Heathen’s core sound has remained remarkably intact over the 2 decades since their last album. Overall, the only recent balls-out Thrash albums capable of competing with this are Slayer’s World Painted Blood, & Overkill’s Ironbound, & this album thoroughly trumps them both. Lee Altus, the main driving force of the band, is a riff/solo machine, capable of creating progressive, lick filled riffs that are still incredibly catchy.

Next you have the Thrashers Arrows Of Agony & Fade Away. Once again, as with Control By Chaos, nothing really sticks out for me. Not saying they are bad tracks, not at all. They just lack a certain spark some of the others have. Next we have A Hero’s Welcome. Dave’s vocals are great, but other than that, I’d say this is the worst track on the album. Next up, Undone. Straight up thrasher with some killer riffs here & there. Now, we come to the last 3 tracks of the album, & this is where the album really begins to shine. Bloodkult is one of the fastest songs on the album, & gets right down to business. No long, windy intros here. Next up, Red Tears Of Disgrace. Long intro, then it morphs into a mid-paced chugger. It‘s one of those songs where the riff makes you want to punch someone in the face. Finally, we have the absolute highlight of the album, Silent Nothingness. I’d say this song is Heathen’s equivalent to Damage Inc, starting kinda slow, then exploding, all guns blazing, into an all-out Thrash attack. Epic song, but I think the demo version is slightly better.

Overall, this album has a few spots where it lags a little bit, but when it’s on, it’s ON! Even if the album was entirely made up of tracks like the ones I’m not as fond of would still get a 80-85 rating, This album is one of the 4 best post-1990 thrash albums I’ve ever heard, as well as Paradox’s Riot Squad, Kreator‘s Violent Revolution, & Exodus‘ Exhibit B: The Human Condition. Any thrash fan should pick this up, it’s well worth the 20 year wait!

An Instant Classic! Welcome back Heathen! - 85%

necroluciferia, June 3rd, 2010

Interesting discussion I was having the other day, the bottom line of which basically being that most thrash bands (certainly of the Bay Area variety) only have two great albums in them. Slayer; Reign In Blood and South Of Heaven. Megadeth; Peace Sells (Countdown is good, though debatably thrash, while some would also put forth an argument for the vastly overrated Rust In Peace). Forbidden; Forbidden Evil and Twisted Into Form. Testament; The New Order and PWYP. Let’s not get started with Metallica…

So if your average pattern is, say, good debut, 2 absolute classics followed by 2 albums that are kind of iffy, a better album but moving in a more mainstream direction and so on so forth…then it’s certainly no bad thing that Heathen have done so little between the release of their fantastic 1991 album Victims Of Deception up until today. With this album ranking reasonably high in my top 10 thrash releases of all time it is easy sometimes to throw out the ‘I wonder why they never did more albums…’ but perhaps when you think about it, rather they be remembered for the two quality albums they did than keep churning out sub-standard rubbish that eventually has us all crying ‘oh no, another X album. They are so past it/ should have quit in 1991, etc.’ Instead, they have made their return some 19 years on with album number three sounding every bit as killer as you’d expect.

The album is brought in with something of an Eastern lick; of course Heathen were never the most straightforward of thrash bands and such progressive nuances are to be quite expected. ‘Dying Season’ instantly comes hurtling through with an undiluted array of speedy riffs and drums that waste no time. David White’s vocals pack a real punch and you get the impression that he means business while there is a rich tone to them that isn’t dissimilar to Chuck Billy.

‘No Stone Unturned’ is the absolute landmark point of this album; at over 10 minutes in length it’s a real epic and practically an album in itself! It commences with a heavy, drawn out dose of Chug that lets you know it has arrived; I shan’t beat around the bush and I’ll just come out and say this is one step away from plagiarism of little known song ‘Walk’ by a band I guess no-one has ever heard of; one of the mightiest and most recognisable intros in metal, and this opens into a hell of a powerful track with crunchy guitars, a groovy bassline and some really purposeful solo guitar work. It’s heavy as fuck and yet there’s no shortage of melody to it especially through the memorable chorus; it works through a prolonged instrumental passage that has that kind of atmosphere of ‘Orion’ with a thick bass until the music picks up again sounding meaner than ever and there’s some Maiden-esque harmonies going on here for sure.

The album is rather varied and certainly don’t expect the two dimensional sound of recent efforts from other bands of their era. ‘A Hero’s Welcome’ is another highlight; it’s slow-paced but incredibly powerful, a crestfallen thrash ballad that pays tribute to the fallen soldiers. The drumming has a nice roll to it, and an almost military feel in parts while the vocals are beautifully done. ‘Silent Nothingness’ has echoes of ‘Timeless Cell…’ especially with the wild, high pitched vocals on the chorus.

This is quite possibly the best new thrash album I’ve heard in a long time, and ought to be an instant classic. It’s worth mentioning also there are a few guest appearances from Altus’ band mates in Exodus and also from Steve Di Giorgio and Jon Allen of Sadus (who play the sitar and chimes on the intro!). Welcome back Heathen!

Written by Luci Herbert for http://www.metalteamuk.net

Best Thrash Metal album in the last 20 years! - 97%

Chopped_in_Half, March 29th, 2010

In 1991 Heathen released their second full-length 'Victims of Deception' which is what I consider a very underrated album, it was an answer to Metallica's '...And Justice for All' but I feel it surpassed ...And Justice.

In 2005 they released a demo, showing the fans they still had it, and fans eagerly awaited a new album, fast forward to 2010, and granted it took a while, and it shows in the music why it took time, but FINALLY, it is here to destroy!

First a nifty little intro, and then the thrashing begins with 'Dying Season' which was a song on the 2005 demo, but this one sounds way better of course, it opens with what Heathen are known for, technical riffage and leads, and right off, fans of the band will know, Heathen are back, and taking no prisoners, this song rips and shreds thrashes and bashes, and intelligent lyrics, which Heathen are also known for, thinking mans thrash, then comes 'Control by Chaos' which opens with some nice catchy leads, then makes it's way into a total thrasher, and still retains it's catchyness, it's easy to find yourself singing along to the chorus as it's very catchy, then it slows down to a mid-paced tempo, with an excellent solo hovering over it, 'No Stone Unturned' is this albums answer to 'Heathen's Song' found on 'Victims of Deception' but I think they even outdid that one, this song is mostly mid-paced to slow and plodding, but heavy as fuck, but it does change...when you least expect it, there is alot of excellent bass work around on this song, especially near the beginning, and wait until the break, Heathen flex their technical muscles with a beautiful classical guitar segment, one word for this song, INCREDIBLE!

And for those of you who may think the songs after the first 3 fade into obscurity, think again! 'Arrows of Agony' will give you the answer right off, this song is a pure thrasher all throughout, with an excellent chorus, riffage, just about anything else you can think of, this was another song on the 2005 demo, I'll skip to 'Red Tears of Disgrace' opens with some more nice classical guitar, you may think you're in for another 'Prisoners of Fate' but surprise, it's no where near that, it moves into a solid plodding song, that is easily very Sabbath influenced, it does change things up a bit, Heathen sure know how to keep it interesting, the closer 'Silent Nothingness' was also on the 2005 demo under the name 'Empty Nothingness', closing a great album like this can't be easy, and some bands fail to make a strong end to an album, but not Heathen, this is easily one of the best tracks on the album, and they saved it for last! fast riffs thrashing about, shredding leads, nice melodic break in the middle as well, followed up with some excellent soloing, then the song fades out, leaving the listener in awe of what they just heard in 2010

And another thing, the production on this album is the way modern thrash should sound, it has a nice clean sound, and it's not overproduced, it lets the music do the talking.

Fans of Heathen, do not worry, Heathen has not joined the ranks of Exodus, Sadus, Kreator and many other bands that have attempted a comeback and failed, Heathen have delivered a monster thrash album here folks.

The Evolution of Heathen - 90%

pinpals, January 11th, 2010

I was fortunate enough to learn about Heathen’s existence back when their first two albums as well as their 2005 demo were available for free download on their site. What I discovered was a sadly overlooked Thrash band that, while quite derivative of Metallica in the beginning, actually got better as the 21st century has come around. Their 1991 album, "Victims of Deception", was an epic/progressive Thrash masterpiece and their 2005 demo (all three songs from the demo appear on this album freshly re-recorded) only pointed to greater things to come.

Heathen was formed all the way back in 1984 by guitarist Lee Altus and ex-drummer Carl Sacco, the former coming off a stint in Angel Witch. David White (aka David Godfrey) has been the band’s vocalist for the majority of the time, including singing on all of their official releases, but the band’s ranks have also included, for a short time, vocal legends Paul Baloff and David Wayne (the demos featuring these vocalists are much sought-after rarities).

I’ll admit that I was rather heavily anticipating this release. Their 2005 demo was just outstanding and I couldn’t wait to hear what else the band had to offer. I was disappointed when the release date got pushed further and further back. I’ll say it now, though, the patience was definitely worth it. The three best songs are the ones from the demo, which are now given stronger arrangements and an improved production job. "Dying Season" is a furious opener with a killer break as well as some wonderful guitar leads. David White has only gotten better with age; his more mature voice makes him one of the better vocalists in the genre. "Arrows of Agony" now has a stronger emphasis on the eastern influences and better guitar solos in the middle. The absolute best song, however, is closing thrasher "Silent Nothingness", which is nonstop awesomeness from start to finish. Riffs this good just do not seem to be written anymore in the 2000’s.

Fortunately, the non-demo songs are enjoyable as well. "Control by Chaos" takes a more modern approach while still being a Thrash song and once again features some superb soloing in the middle. Most of the songs are built upon solid riffs and instead of being full-on thrashers, include both fast and slow sections, while still falling under the realm of Thrash. A good reference point would be Megadeth’s "Endgame", although these songs are longer and somewhat more dynamic.

There are really only two negatives to this album. "A Hero’s Welcome", though well-intentioned, feels out of place musically with the rest of the album, sounding more like an American hard rock song than anything else. It’s not as bad as "Prisoners Of Fate" but it sticks out like a sore thumb. Also, the epic "No Stone Unturned" does not quite work, despite the music itself being quite enjoyable. It feels like two songs tied together by an out-of-place acoustic interlude, perhaps with some reorganization that song could be a winner.

Despite these detriments, I cannot help but be pleased with "The Evolution of Chaos". Heathen is stronger than ever and have written that great 2000’s comeback album that so many other bands have failed at. Lovers of Thrash and Speed Metal would be wise to get this ASAP.

(Originally published at www.metal-temple.com)

This Is How It's Done! - 97%

heavens_coffin, January 11th, 2010

Thrash metal has definitely experienced a huge resurgence in the last 5 or 6 years. During that time we've had the pleasure of some killer bands like Witchtrap or, more recently, Vektor. We've also had underwhelming, unoriginal stuff like Merciless Death, Municipal Waste, Lazarus A.D. and a host of other bands worshipping the Bay Area Thrash movement, the Teutonic Thrash movement or a combination of the two (such as Warbringer). We've seen some solid but not overwhelming comebacks from bands like Exodus, Death Angel, Paradox, Onslaught et al. When Heathen put out a demo in 2005 it turned some heads. The three songs on that demo mopped the floor with the vast majority of "modern" thrash metal be recorded at the time. Since then, the anticipation of the new album has intensified with each passing month. Finally, at the ass-end of December 2009, Japan is graced with The Evolution of Chaos, with Europe and North America getting it as winter comes to an end in February and March.

I've never been a huge fan of Heathen, but I enjoy Victims of Deception and Breaking the Silence quite a bit when the time is right. I really liked what I heard on the 2005 demo and was very pleasantly surprised when I blasted the full album. After the nifty intro, the album blasts off with 'Dying Season', which was the second track on the 2005 demo. An excellent choice to start off the album, the song twists and turns through a maze of ultra-radical riffage that explodes into an infectious chorus that is almost a mixture of old Metallica and Artillery. In many ways, this album takes you back to the late 80's, with huge ...And Justice for All vibes all over the place. This is best displayed on the epic fourth track, 'No Stone Unturned'. If Metallica would have written this song and this album, the world would be upside down right about now. Well, this is probably as close as you're going to get to that era of Metallica again without spinning your copies of Master of Puppets and ...And Justice for All. 'No Stone Unturned' is 11 mammoth minutes of oldschool power/thrash bliss. The last 3 minutes of the song spiral into an intoxicating and chaotic maelstrom of headsplitting riffage and soaring leadwork. Let's then fast forward to 'Red Tears of Disgrace', the tenth track. Starting out with a soothing melodic intro that makes you think maybe this is going to be another ballad, it morphs into a mid-paced bludgeoner with addictive riffs and vocals to match. A fantastic power/thrash song, 'Red Tears of Disgrace' will probably make Jon Schaffer wish that Iced Earth could sound remotely this good again, or ever did for that matter. Other tracks that highlight this masterwork of modern thrash metal are 'Arrows of Agony', 'Undone', 'Silent Nothingness' and 'Control by Chaos'.

The guitar work on this album is nothing short of spectacular. Like ...And Justice for All, it's impeccably played and surgically precise. Unlike ...And Justice for All, however, The Evolution of Chaos has a bit of a "warmer" feel to it. By the time of ...And Justice for All, Metallica had become a cold and precise machine and that showed clearly in the atmosphere of that record. With The Evolution of Chaos, Heathen still have a similar feeling to that, yet it feels more "human" than ...And Justice for All ever did. The leads on this album simply rip and should be a lesson to modern metal guitar players to step off the gas and play from the heart because the results are much more sincere and much more intense.

The production displayed on The Evolution of Chaos is another pleasant surprise for an album recorded in the digital age. It's refreshing to be able to hear fingers sliding up and down the fret boards as it adds greatly to the acoustic sections of the record--especially the intro and the midsection of 'No Stone Unturned'. A crystal clear production job that does not suffocate the music, but gives it plenty of breathing room. I wouldn't have it any other way for a Bay Area thrash album.

Bottom line: this album is amazing. I expect this to make the year-end lists of many die hard thrash fans in 2010. It's going to be very, very surprising if a thrash album comes along in 2010 that outdoes this thing. In a time when thrash metal has become kind of a shell of its former self, a time when its scene is populated by imitators imitating imitators of yore, The Evolution of Chaos is a huge breath of fresh air. My jaw is still on the floor. Every time I listen to this album, it gets better. This is exactly what thrash metal needs right now: an infusion of fucking awesome. If this doesn't wind up being my album of the year, I'll be god damn surprised. Easily the best comeback thrash album of the last 10 years. Welcome the fuck back, Heathen.

*Originally written by me for http://www.metallusmaximus.com on January 10, 2010

Victims of Deception part 2 - 90%

nzjonnydeath, January 10th, 2010

Nearly 20 years after Victims of Deception and about 5 years with a couple of the demo tracks floating around Heathen have finally released their new album and it is killer.

When I first heard Victims I thought 'this is what And Justice For All would sound like if it had shorter catchier songs', this album is just an extension of that logic, this is what Death Magnetic should have sounded like. Crunchy guitars, kick drums are spot on, not to clicky like alot of modern productions, David Godfrey sounds excellent, if you liked his singing on Victims, you'll love it here, he still has the range, but the gravelly thrash vocals have improved with age, not sounding forced at all (which at times they did on Victims). Bass is audible, and in the mellow spots shows some variation, but you won't notice it at all when lead work is happening, lead has a killer tone, and we all know Lee Altus can play.

Dying Season and Arrows of Agony which were the demo tracks that Heathen had avaiilable for download sound practically the same except for better production (it's been awhile, but as I remember them they are unchanged) both are uptempo numbers, catchy in the thrashy way. In fact, the entire album is uptempo and catchy, with the exception of the power ballads, A Hero's Welcome and Red Tears of Disgrace. The former I don't really like, but the lead work at the end is good, Red Tears I like however, it's heavier and the acoustic work I like.

No Stone Unturned deserves it's own paragraph because it is that good (and 11 minutes long). This is the epic track in the vein of Heathen's Song, except far better (and Heathen's Song is awesome). This initially is just a stomping chugger, but it has a few trick up it's sleeve. For a start the chugging is pretty good, then we have the ultra melodic chorus, back to the chugging, back to the chorus, and epic dual lead bridge, followed by some solos, a chucky return to progression from the bridge, and then it's over....

And a mellow acoustic interlude cranks up (with some bass noises), the electrics crank back up and chug the interlude riff, a lead and then THRASH! What follows is an intense build up with double time rhythm and awesome lead work, climax coming with the chorus one more time, seemingly more melodic than any previous chorus (yeah the song is that awesome it got 2 paragraphs).

Anyone who likes melodic thrash should pick this up, it shits on new Exodus, it's catchier than new Testament, its what new Metallica should have sounded like, it doesn't top Endgame though (even though Endgame doesn't have anything quite as awesome as No Stone Unturned) and I'm not going to mention Slayer's latest effort. Good to see some of the 80's thrashers can still write decent songs.

The Pinnacle of Thrash Metal Greatness! - 100%

overkill67, January 2nd, 2010

When I first think of this album after listening to it for the second time in its entirety, it sort of renders me speechless for a moment. I suppose this occurs for the simple fact that I am still having trouble materializing what I have just experienced. An album of this calibre and magnitude deserves a proper homage, and anything other than total praise is simply unjustified.

I have been a loyal follower of Thrash Metal since I was twelve years old. The bay area to me was like heaven in my mind when I was a child and although it may as well have been a million miles away from my small little town of Sault Ste. Marie Ontario in Canada..I sought to one day go there and experience the "evolution" of thrash as it unfolded.

Fast forward to 2010, I am now 32 years old and many things in life have changed...the world has changed. The one thing however that stays constant is my undying, unrivaled love for Thrash Metal music. I literally live by a self-respecting code of ethics in that if the music is not bonafide thrash metal, then I want nothing to do with it. Call me narrow minded if you must, but I merely consider myself to be faithful and above all loyal to MY genre of music.

The Evolution Of Chaos is absolutely the most stunning representation of technically proficient Thrash since the turn of the new millenium. The variation of song structures, conincided with the overall ability and sheer talent of the musicians within the band rises this album onto a pulpit which overshadows much of whats been released as of recent memory.

Lee Altus, who is really the driving force behind the reason that this album came to fruition in the first place, truly deserves a nod from the fans. Lee has been with Exodus since 2005 now, and I can certainly hear some similarities in what Gary's influence has given Lee regarding some of the rythms found within this album. Not a bad thing by any means.

Don't get me wrong, this sounds nothing like Exodus, this is a more polished, more accessible and more epic offering than ANYTHING from the Exodus catalogue. Heathen have now upped the ante for not just the Bay Area resurgence but for the entire Thrash Metal world. Having taken practically 5 whole years since the demo tracks of this album were heard, for a full length to see the light of day certainly seems like an eternity, but now that I have finally listened to the finished product, I can certainly say that it was well worth the wait.

A monster production of incredible proportion, yet still sounding human in the drum department is a testament to what the bands goal was to achieve. A guitar duo that makes Mustaine and Broderick sound like they need more time to practice, a vocalist with balls that clank and my old pal Jon Torres on the low end from Hell, and this monumental Thrash Metal album will hopefully receive the recognition that it rightfully deserves and blow the minds of all who acquire this creation of flawless proportion.

...Let the Evolution of Chaos Begin!