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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.