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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.