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Your fate will soon be called! - 89%

King_of_Arnor, December 27th, 2020

The first thing one unfamiliar with Victims of Deception should know is that this is one of those long albums clocking in at around an hour in length. So if you can comfortably listen the whole way through ...And Justice for All, this is definitely for you. For context, this came exceptionally late in the lifespan of thrash's second wave in 1991, alongside Dark Angel's Time Does Not Heal and Coroner's Mental Vortex, which were on a similar level of technicality. You will probably be hardpressed to name a thrash classic that was released during the rest of the 90s after the traditional scene met its untimely demise. Oh well, I suppose, because Heathen, already latecomers to 80s thrash, didn't survive the tumultuous decade, splitting up in 1993. But the record they created certainly did fare well and continues to hold up to this day, serving as a stellar example of just how far the boundaries of the thrash genre could be pushed.

Onto the album itself... This is very technical, almost progressive thrash metal, and 7 of the 9 songs are over six minutes in length, both traits which it happens to share with AJFA. Speaking of which, there's plenty more similarities with that album: The guitar tone in particular captures that 'Justice' sound, but it's noticeably less thin and scooped here making it a more pleasant listen. Unfortunately though the guitars are just a bit too quiet forcing me to turn the volume up often. Marc Biedermann's bass meanwhile is a bit of a mixed bag. On 'Hypnotized', it's nearly inaudible, but on 'Fear of the Unknown' it's complementing the crushing main riff to great effect and can be heard a bit more in the mix. The drumming is absolutely phenomenal here with plenty of double bass, albeit slightly clicky, and varied tempos, from slow and impactful on the ballad 'Prisoners of Fate' to blazingly fast on 'Mercy is No Virtue'. That drum solo at the end of the latter song is just brilliant as a closer to the album. The vocalist David White sounds sort of like Joey Belladonna, which I normally wouldn't be a fan of, but his melodic vocals harmonise effectively with the riffs being played, especially on the choruses. In my opinion he adds a lot to the catchiness of the songs here, which is a difficult challenge to achieve when the songs are this long.

Another point of comparison to AJFA is that this has intelligent and dark lyrics too, with the most prominent themes being religion (there's the spoken intro by the infamous Jim Jones at the very beginning), corruption, mass manipulation (hence the album title), individuality, fate and death. Oh, and the Rainbow cover 'Kill the King'; while it is my favourite Rainbow song and isn't all that out of place on here where most songs are uptempo, it obviously lacks the same lyrical approach. Nonetheless it's a welcome diversion after the 9+ minute monolith that is 'Heathen's Song'.

The riffs are sometimes groovy but always incredibly punishing, effortlessly adapting to the myriad changes in time signature, some even rivalling the best ones from Artillery's By Inheritance, and Heathen fortunately know how to do acoustic sections right, letting them build up organically into all-out sonic attacks while providing some much needed variety. The foremost examples are the intros to 'Heathen's Song' and 'Prisoners of Fate'. Alternatively, they just let the guitars loose on the short instrumental 'Guitarmony' where both Lee Altus and Doug Piercy trade solos; speaking of which, the soloing on the entire album is absolutely impeccable.

Now I will be honest, as a few reviewers here have pointed out the playing here isn't really all that technical when compared to something like Control and Resistance, but that also means the songs don't devolve into excessive wankery, overstay their welcome or feel overly forced at any point. Instead, I think the bulk of the 'technical' aspect comes more from the tight yet unpredictable riffing and drumwork, and the clean, almost clinical production allowing every note to be clearly heard, which is definitely a positive quality wise.

Overall, Victims of Deception is a very strong and consistent record start to finish; although the last few tracks aren't as strong as the first three, they are still worth a listen if only for the thought provoking lyrics. The bass could be a bit more prominent on some of the tracks though. Compared to Heathen's debut Breaking the Silence, this is a major step up, with much improved production, better songwriting and more thrash influences instead of speed metal. In summary, it's the definitive Heathen record and an often forgotten tech thrash gem that could have had more exposure and relevance if it had been released earlier, say in 1990, like the band members originally intended.

Several steps beyond their debut album! (but still not technical) - 88%

criscool623, August 10th, 2020

I love thrash metal. It's the genre that forged my tastes and criteria of what I like and don't. When I was just listening to other bands besides the Big American 4, I looked for which were considered the best albums in the genre; thanks to this, I discovered authentic gems such as "By Inheritance", "Eternal Nightmare", "World Circus" and similar ones. One of the albums that called rapidly my attention was "Victims of Deception", firstly owing to its cover; I loved that kind of futuristic blue-coloured scenario that portrayed. To be honest, to date, I don't know what kind of place it represents; It seems like a factory or a metal-melting plant, but even with this, I consider it one of my favourite cover arts in metal (this was also triggered thanks to my love for blue colour).

But well, this review is for talking about the music instead of the cover art, so let's go on.

I remember perfectly the moment when I was going to play this album for the very first time. However, I just could listen to the first song as I was at school during computing classes, so I had to be as discreet as possible, but that was totally impossible. "Hypnotized" started with that curious discourse which I later discovered it was told by Jim Kones, that horrid and malevolent man who attained to kill hundreds of people by hypnotising them with stupid prophetic discourses (that speech fits perfectly with the song, once you think about it). After that 1-minute discourse, the real album starts. Victims of Deception has possibly the best introduction for a thrash metal album as, during 2 and a half minutes, the album is introduced with a powerful and bombastic sound, thanks to the crushing sound of the rhythmic guitars and the subtle addition of the drums, which give more intensity to the music as it moves on. Some clean arpeggios are added in the form of hues and, finally, some solos are played to welcome the album. From the minute 2:36, the madness begins. That full speed headed riff made me lose the control once I listened to it during classes. The headbang took over me. Never had I listened to such a powerful guitar song until I discovered this album. This is the main point and one of the best parts that I want to highlight from this album: the guitars. The work done by Lee Altus and Doug Piercy is spectacular. The mix of devastating riffs, mind-bending solos and the addition of some hue in the form of arpeggios and ghost notes make this album a delight for every fan of a powerful guitar sound in thrash metal. The tone is obviously influenced by the one used in an album like "...and Justice For All", but amazingly, this album feels stronger in this aspect than the album which is based in. And I mentioned above, the introduction of "Victis of Deception" is one of the best I've listened in a thrash album. Check it by yourself!

The songwriting is outstanding. It's notorious that every (original) song from this album had an arduous process of songwriting as they feel very complete. There are even some progressive sections within the songs, which is a great form to avoid them feel flat and boring. There are interesting interludes, a lot of melodies that injects life to the songs and many rhythm changes throughout the album, such as the accelerated final section of "Opiate of the Masses" (epic and mind-blowing, by the way), the triplet-based change in "Fear of the Unknown" and the intro and outro of "Heathen's Songs". In general, all the songs are outstanding in its own manner and they even feel having their own identity, which is remarkable owing that there have always been lots of thrash bands with similar and exchangeable songs, and the fact that a band writes songs instead of a compilation of riffs separated in several tracks is frustrating sometimes. Heathen is a band that reached this point of having memorable songs on their own.

To finish with the good things, David White is great. He's shamely not very known, and it's a shame as his vocal work in the album is one of the best aspects of if. Yes, his voice is kind of reminiscent to Joey Belladonna's, but how many clean-voiced thrash metal singers do you know? David's more clean approach adds more originality to the album; his work is powerful and is a great addition to the band.

So far, I've told marvels about the album, but there are, unfortunately, some things that didn't convince me at all that impeded me consider the album a masterpiece or a classic thrash release.

I already told that the songs are great owing to David's grand voice and the crushing guitar work from Altus and Piercy. The problem is that I felt the album quite inconsistent, overall in the 2nd part of the album (from "Fear of the Unknown" onwards). It's kind of odd listening to a fast song and that the next track is a ballad or a more mid-paced song (that is the case with "Prisoners of Fate" and "Guitarmony"). The songs are excellent and memorable, of course, I don't deny that, but I felt the album lost intensity with this radical change of rhythm. There's no consistency of listening to various fast songs and after that, a little ballad or mid-paced song to give the listener the chance to rest for another tornado of riffs. No. The songs are mixed and it feels that the album could have had a better songs arrangement.

Some other details that I noticed have to do with the recording and mix of the album. Unfortunately, "Victims of Deception" took the worst aspect of it's inspirational album "...and Justice For All": the bass guitar. It can't be heard in most of the time. If you check the demo version of "Opiate of the Masses", you'll note that the bass guitar can be heard along with the transition melody played by Altus and Piercy; here, it is scarcely noticeable. To be honest, it's an aspect that I didn't notice the first time that I listened to the album, but once you deeply listen to the mix, you'll notice that something it's missing. The weird think is that, opposite to the Metallica album, here, the music is still powerful and overwhelming, how? I don't know, but you'll possibly not notice this aspect at least that you pay close attention to the mix. Also, I'd have liked that the cymbals had been better recorded, as they are (as well as the bass guitar) barely noticeable within the mix, and it's a shame because the work of Darren Minter is actually great and very competent, but his performance as to the cymbals is quite relegated owing to the mix.

Before I finish, I'd like to talk about the "technical" aspect of the album. It always has been strange, to me, that Heathen was catalogued as a technical thrash metal band by everyone who talks about them. I already mentioned this in my previous review (about "Breaking the Silence"), and I repeat it here: this is not technical thrash metal for me. I haven't heard bands like Coroner, Mekong Delta and Watchtower which play, supposedly, pure tech thrash, but I have heard albums like "Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?", "Alison Hell", "World Circus", "By Inheritance", "Rust in Peace", "The Meaning of Life", "the same "...and Justice For All" and others which I don't remember their names at this moment and those albums sound more like technical thrash to me, and many of these bands don't have the label of tech thrash (excepting Toxik and Annihilator). What I mean is that for me, Heathen has a category that doesn't belong to them (god, Megadeth and Artillery deserve that label, to my eyes). I only can suppose that Heathen is called tech thrash because of the numerous progressive moments that the album has, but I neither think that because of those tiny moments, the album should count as a progressive thrash release (it would be a better label, though). Maybe I'm just judging the band with their first two releases and I need to listen to the later material, but in that case, it should be specified that the band played pure thrash metal in their beginnings and tech thrash in the modern times.

I extended a lot with this particular topic, but I really wanted to tell it. Sorry.

To conclude and finish with this review once and for all, "Victims of Deception" is a strong release. It's several steps beyond their debut album and it's, sadly, one of the last great albums that thrash metal left for posterity. It has some details regarding the mix and the song's arrangement, and for me, it doesn't fit inside the label most people they have put it in, but those details don't demerit at all the experience of listening to it. It's powerful, full of strength, with an imposing sound, great vocals and memorable songs for every thrash metal fan. Due to its detriments, it's hard to catalogue "Victims of Deception" as a masterpiece, but it's undoubtedly an unmissable record that, at least, deserves one opportunity to be checked out. Long live Heathen.

(God, not even in my homework do I write that much text quantity).

Just. Plain. Swell. - 86%

Big_Robot_Monster, June 14th, 2018

It’s been a long time since I had the gumption to write a review of anything at all. So let’s break that drought with this: a brand spanking new review for Heathen’s Victims of Deception, an old as shit album I’m too young to really appreciate the impact of.

So let me retread some ground and rehash some stuff that previous reviews of this album have brought up. They’re pertinent, they’re important…and they bear repeating: This is a massive step up from their first album. Massive. MASSIVE. Some earlier reviewers have said this album is what "…and Justice for All" should have sounded like and it’s actually pretty tough to argue against that. VOD is definitely meatier sounding than Justice’s paper-thin, electric toothbrush-sounding guitar tone. And I mean, if you’re trying to go the “technical thrash” route, it also helps to be firing on all cylinders –you know, not cutting the bass out of the mix for no reason and continuing to employ Lars Ulrich.

And yes, as every other review of this album has said, this was Thrash’s Last Stand. Its Thermopylae. Its Dunkirk. Its X-Men 3: The Last Stand. Victims of Deception was released just a few short months before The Black Album and Nevermind came out and did the ol’ one-two punch to thrash’s fuckin’ balls, which took the beast out of commission for well over a decade. What I’m trying to say is that VOD is a darn good swansong for the genre before it began rolling around on the floor clutching at its crotch for dear life. It’s just plain swell.

I really enjoyed Heathen's first studio offering, but I knew VOD was on another level as soon as the music kicked in on “Hypnotize.” That song just absolutely crushes in every conceivable way. Not that there are any bad tracks on this album, but “Hypnotize” is far and away the strongest song. Most of the tracks on this album are staying true to the technical, mildly progressive side of thrash metal – complex compositions, extended lengths of songs…that type of thing. But there are a few shorter, punchier and to-the-point tracks, including “Hellbound,” which has a pretty great Iron Maiden-sounding melody in the chorus. Honestly, fuck trying to do a play-by-play of every song on this album. Just put the album on and rage for like an hour.

VOD demands a little more brain power than your usual trash album, injecting a little cerebrality into a genre of music that can go caveman-tier pretty fucking fast (I think I might have invented the word “cerebrality” just for this review, ignore the pretentiousness). But it’s worth the time and effort. You should make that time and effort as I did, young apprentice.

Oh, and post-script: let’s give a shout out to Heathen for coming up with a fucking decent logo to use between their first album and VOD. I’m giving this album one extra point just for that.

Thrash's Last Stand - 100%

TimeDoesNotHeal, December 6th, 2014

By 1991, the sand was shifting beneath thrash metal's feet. Other, newer styles of metal were gaining commercial traction, and the wellspring of creativity that had fueled thrash for the last decade was beginning to run dry. It was in this climate that Heathen released their second album, Victims of Deception, a technical thrash masterwork that has stood the test of time over the 23 years since its release. The album consists of 64 minutes of classic thrash metal, jam packed with brutal riffs, virtuosic solos, epic song structures, and memorable hooks, which combine to form a totally different beast from the band's 1987 debut, Breaking the Silence. While that album was an exuberant outing featuring strong influences from the new wave of British heavy metal, Victims of Deception draws more from the more technically-oriented brand of thrash that cropped up during the late 1980s. The influence of albums such as …And Justice For All and Rust in Peace can clearly be heard all over the record.

The stars of the album are unquestionably the guitar tag-team of Lee Altus and Doug Piercy. Both deliver virtuosic, shred oriented solos with great frequency throughout the record, giving a sense of anticipation to each song. In particular, the guitar duel around the seven-minute mark of "Heathen's Song" could be possibly be the finest collection of solos in the history of thrash metal, rivaling what players such as Testament's Alex Skolnick and the Forbidden duo of Craig Locicero and Tim Calvert were doing around this time. The album is a lengthy one, its first three tracks alone running a combined 25 minutes. This can be a detriment to many thrash albums, but the songwriting and varied compositions, which are packed to the hilt with mosh-worthy material, prevent the songs from dragging and boredom from setting in. Some songs later in the album, notably "Mercy is No Virtue", feature riffs of an intensity and velocity matching Kreator circa Coma of Souls. Even the album's token ballad, "Prisoners of Fate", avoids coming off as cheesy or contrived, mostly thanks to an inspired performance from vocalist David White.

Victims of Deception also benefits from an aurally pleasing production job, courtesy of Rob Beaton. The guitar sound is impressive and crunchy. Darren Minter's drums sound like a toned down version of the clicky tone that Lars Ulrich experimented with on Metallica's …And Justice For All. Although the bass, provided by Blind Illusion's Marc Biedermann, is not especially audible, it is able to shine through in brief moments, such as the acoustic-driven intro to "Fear of the Unknown". David White's vocals are in top form on this album, a marked improvement from his performance on Breaking the Silence. His vocals contrasting nicely with the relentless e-string attack of the rhythm guitars.

Overall, Victims of Deception represents the last and best thrash metal classic. The Bay Area scene, of which Heathen was a part, would fall apart shortly after the album's release, but this record contributes to the scene's continuing legacy. It contains both memorable riffs and technical song structures, and is a masterclass in thrash metal lead guitar playing. Many music fans have an album that can never be topped for them, a stone cold classic of the highest order. For me, that album is Victims of Deception.

How To Do Technical Thrash Properly - 85%

beardovdoom, November 24th, 2013

I haven't listened to this album in a while, so i've played it twice this weekend to get me in the mood for writing a review. I still really enjoy the last Heathen album so a trip back to the first 2 albums felt necessary. This album was released in 1991 when thrash was at its commercial peak but the creative peak had since passed. What this album lacks in originality it certainly makes up for in musicianship and songwriting.

After the intro speech we get an epic introduction to 'Hypnotized' which reminds me of Metallica. In fact, Metallica's influence is all over the album. If Metallica had released this it would've been massive. This album is clearly influenced by 'And Justice For All' but has a vastly superior production and better songs. Not that i dislike 'Justice' but it has too many flaws to be a masterpiece. It did influence a new wave of more technical thrash though so it deserves praise for helping Heathen create this excellent album.

There's various influences besides Metallica heard throughout. The solos and melodies are like a combination of Megadeth and Iron Maiden, very good and very frequent. I like lots of solos as long as they are good and this album delivers them. The riffs are nice and varied with a few acoustic passages thrown in for good measure, excellent work again. Lee Altus now plays in Exodus so that's a sure sign that this guy knows his stuff when it comes to playing thrash. The bass is provided by Marc Biedermann (Blind Illusion, another great technical thrash band) and sits comfortably in the mix, even getting a cool bass intro on 'Fear of the Unknown'. Drums are typical thrash style but are also varied and fit well with the myriad of time changes and varied riffing. Perhaps the only downside is that this album is particularly long so occasionally a song feels like it could be shorter but this is a minor gripe. Quality songwriting mixed with excellent musicianship make this album one of the very best in thrash. As i said at the start, it may not be the most original work but it's bloody good.

Which leads me to the vocals. David White-Godfrey is a fantastic singer. In thrash terms he falls on the Russ Anderson (Forbidden) side of things. David's voice is somewhat reminiscent of Bruce Dickinson and Geoff Tate but it works well here because this is quite melodic thrash. Some of these choruses are absolutely huge! His vocals particularly suit 'Heathen's Song' and 'Prisoners of Fate', admittedly the semi-ballad tracks. The true test is the Rainbow cover 'Kill the King' and he does Ronnie James Dio no disrespect with this performance.

Victims of Deception has a nice variety of songs with thrashy numbers like 'Hypnotized', 'Morbid Curiosity' and 'Mercy is no Virtue', a fairly faithful Rainbow cover, a ballad (sort of) and the multi-layered epic and album highlight 'Heathen's Song'. This album is both epic and progressive without being pretentious. The only tracks i didn't care for were the instrumental noodle-fest 'Guitarmony' (we know you can play already!) and the bonus cover of 'Hellbound' which doesn't really fit the albums sound.

Heathen were truly the most overlooked band in thrash. They were just as good as classic Metallica and Megadeth but probably came on the scene too late to make a real impact which is a shame. For fans of those bands as well as Coroner, Dark Angel, Blind Illusion....in fact just buy this if you like thrash, you won't be disappointed.

Recommended tracks: Hypnotized, Heathen's Song, Kill the King, Fear of the Unknown

Victims of Circumstance - 92%

lonerider, December 27th, 2012

It is no secret that by the time “Victims of Deception” was released in the year 1991, the writing was on the wall for Bay Area thrash and the thrash genre in general: aside from a couple of late classics, one of which was “Victims of Deception”, the genre had seen its heyday in the mid to late 1980s and was now mired in a fast decline. But then along came a bunch of relative newcomers – after all, the band had previously put out only one full-length under the Heathen moniker – that pulled off the remarkable feat of writing an album that rivals and in many ways surpasses much of the genre’s best work from the eighties.

It remains an interesting question to this day why Heathen, who as musicians were superior and as songwriters at least equal to a band like Metallica, were never able to make it big or garner any widespread success. The answer seems to come down to two overriding factors, one I have already touched upon: “Victims of Deception” came out a couple of years too late for Heathen to take a ride on the proverbial thrash bandwagon, which had mostly run out of steam by the time the 1990s dawned. The other factor is that the music on “Victims of Deception” is more complex and technical than Metallica ever were, even considering that “And Justice for All” wasn’t exactly tailored to mainstream success either.

That in turn brings us to the actual music on “Victims of Deception”, which is characterized by a departure from the speed metal leanings of the band’s debut, “Breaking the Silence”, and the advent of a thrashier, heavier sound. In fact, “Victims of Deception” is vintage Bay Area thrash, but with added complexity and a multitude of tempo and riff changes to spice things up and make this a textbook example for technical thrash done right. As soon as the ominous sampled introduction to “Hypnotized” ends and the massive opening riff kicks in, whatever expectations the listener may have had increase considerably and the album never lets up until the final chords of “Timeless Cell of Prophecy” roll around.

If this otherwise brilliant effort has one minor flaw, it is that the best three songs all come at the beginning and the remaining tracks, with the exception of the more mellow “Prisoners of Fate” and the hard-rocking “Kill the King”, aren’t quite as memorable, taking a more progressive and technical approach instead. While this is not a bad thing at all, the album still could have benefited from a different track order, as intricate songs like “Fear of the Unknown”, “Morbid Curiosity”, “Mercy Is No Virtue” and the closing “Timeless Cell of Prophecy”, excellent though they may be, are all stacked on the second half of this more than one-hour long album and therefore can get a little overbearing at times. Perhaps putting the instantly accessible cover of Rainbow’s “Kill the King” in place of the somewhat pointless instrumental “Guitarmony” would have been a smart move in that regard.

Ultimately, however, “Victims of Deception” is an album of astounding quality and consistency, recorded by musicians of remarkable technical prowess. It’s safe to say that a band like Metallica – as the most successful band to emerge from the Bay Area scene, they are the perfect measuring stick – doesn’t hold a candle to Heathen in that category, as the drums, guitars and even the vocals are sometimes light-years ahead of what the likes of Ulrich, Hammett and Hetfield have ever been capable of. That in turn allows the band to infuse more melody and progressive elements into the music whilst retaining plenty of speed and aggressiveness. Particularly the riffing on tracks like “Fear of the Unknown” and “Hypnotized” is positively spectacular. Moreover, the stellar production brings out the best in the band’s performance, giving the guitars a massive sound without stifling the other instruments and various little details in the band’s awe-inspiring delivery.

In closing, “Victims of Deception” is the perfect album to demonstrate that the more iconic and commercially successful bands from the Bay Area scene weren’t necessarily the be-all and end-all in musical quality and that some of the more under-the-radar acts were actually just as good or perhaps sometimes even a little better. With an effort like this under their belt, Heathen were definitely deserving of more widespread acclaim and sustained success than they ended up with, but as we all know, life simply isn’t always fair …

Choicest cuts: “Hypnotized”, “Opiate of the Masses”, “Heathen’s Song”, “Fear of the Unknown”

Dark, definitive, classic, and so on. - 97%

hells_unicorn, May 12th, 2011

1991, the year that some may recognize as the final gasp of traditional thrash metal, and that some others often dismiss as the tail end of a recession in original ideas that sealed the style’s doom. One thing is definitely clear when looking at the body of heavily ambitious albums that came out this year or the previous one, particularly “Horrorscope”, “Rust In Peace”, “Persistence Of Time” and “Time Does Not Heal”; the end didn’t come for any lack of initiative on the part of the prime movers, save perhaps Metallica. The template had shifted a bit towards something a bit slower, in part due to “South Of Heaven”, and epically longwinded due to the obvious influences of “…And Justice For All”, but the spirit of the style was largely the same as the mid 80s explosion of both the New York and Bay Area scenes.

In the context of these develops stands Heathen, one of the more conventional and clean cut acts to come from the west coast, combining the traditionally melodic heavy metal vocal sound associated with Anthrax and the technically fantastic riffing character of Vio-Lence. Clawing through the vast array of riff driven, monstrously virtuosic albums shelled out by their competitors with a sophomore effort that is often hailed as thrash metal’s final swansong before the emergence of grunge. “Victims Of Deception” is an album that is packed with enough technical prowess to hold some appeal for Voivod fans, yet traditionally oriented enough to rope in all the mainline Big 4 fans who were either intentionally or unintentionally obeying the commands of the mainstream music media to play it safe, with Slayer being a token flirtation with a darker underworld.

The frequent comparisons to Metallica’s famed 1988 commercial breakthrough album are not without some merit, though the commonalities tend to be overblown. Heathen is playing off the same concept of largely longer songs with gradually developing ideas and a similar lyrical foray of socio-political and theological cynicism dominates the mix. But this is an album that actually highlights all of the strong points of Metallica’s 4th album while systematically avoiding every mistake made in the creation of said album. The production is chunky and formidable rather than thin and all but completely bottomless, repetition is minimal while variation is frequent, and the ballad work and instrumental venture are mercifully shorter and more to the point. One could maybe argue that this album should have been written a couple years ago, but even if something of a throwback in a time of change, the quality cannot be denied.

Kicking off with a studio effects saturated preaching session by a fire and brimstone pastor, what ensues is a dark and sinister world of word manipulation and deceit that is “Hypnotized”. At 8 ½ minutes long and eclipsed in length by only one other song, this is one of those grandiose ventures into riff driven aggression that is tempered by a gradual progression from a trudging beast into a raging storm of galloping riff work. At times this thing cooks with the same intensity as “Blackened”; although David White’s vocal attack is less gravely and higher in pitch, providing a unique counterpoint to the heaviness going on beneath. “Opiate Of The Masses” is a bit slower and not quite as fancy, while “Heathen’s Song” starts with a haunting, Crimson Glory inspired acoustic intro before switching on the heavy riff work, but the same balance of hard thrashing and woeful tunefulness endures.

Perhaps the greatest charm of this album, and also one of its more unique aspects amidst a number of similarly long and technical thrashers, is that it is still very firmly rooted in the early 80s speed metal origins that typified albums like “Fistful Of Metal” and “Show No Mercy”. The most obvious example of musical hindsight to this period occurs in the orthodox but heavier reworking of Rainbow’s “Kill The King”, which isn’t really all that far removed from other renditions done by Stratovarius and Primal Fear. But traces of this can be found even amongst songs that are more typical to 1991, even an overt neck-wrecker like “Morbid Curiosity” which is intense enough to rival some of the material on “Beneath The Remains”. All of it results in a healthy variety that makes the extremely long length a lot of these songs all but a non-issue for those used to 4 minute kill sessions courtesy of Sodom’s “Persecution Mania”.

The only thing that is a little bittersweet about this album is that it all but blatantly marks the end of a glorious era for a genre that’s original form has only just recently come back into prominence. It might hold true that there may have been nowhere else for the style to go except for the modern, watered down mess that it became through the importation of newer hardcore and industrial influences courtesy of Pantera and Fear Factory. But even if this were the case (which I personally do not believe), that does little to change the overt superiority that the late 80s through 1991 had to the next 10 years of output by a whole generation of pseudo-thrash bands, let alone the subpar to downright horrid output of the original mainstays who adapted in order to stay on MTV’s regular rotation. For some this album is a classic, but for me it’s almost like a priceless keepsake of a better time. But regardless of one’s individual take on it, the word “essential” accurately describes its nature to thrash and heavy metal enthusiasts across the globe.

Victims of Deception - 90%

Chopped_in_Half, March 31st, 2010

Back in the early 1990's, thrash was on it's last legs for the most part, save aside a few bands that released some solid albums, and Heathen fell into that group that still released a solid album.

The album opens with 'Hypnotized' which starts with a spoken intro, sounding like a gospel show on TV, this song basically says churches are screwing people out of money, and of what they truly believe in, yes this band writes intelligent lyrics, after the intro, the song starts with some heavy as fuck riffs, with some nice classical guitar overtones which lasts about 2 minutes, then the thrashing begins, with some excellent shredding riffs, and David White comes in, and I love this guys vocals, kind of a cross between thrash and power metal, mostly thrash though, love the chorus as well 'your fate, will soon, BE CALLED!' next is 'Opiate of the Masses' this is the song that got me into Heathen, this is some mid-paced thrash at it's best, bludgeoning, plodding, and heavy as fuck, and might I mention catchy too, with awesome verses' and a killer chorus followed by a solo that absolutely shreds, Lee Altus can sure play.

Next is 'Heathen's Song' which is a monolith of a song, clocking in at 9:26, opening with some more excellent classical guitar, and David White showing off his powerful voice, this song is mostly mid-paced throughout, but does change to give it a nice dose of speed, I'll skip to 'Fear of the Unknown' this song gets things thrashing again at full speed, it opens with a dark sound, not sure what it is, then some nice bass fills, and a touch of more classical guitar, then the thrashing begins, not much else to say about it, just a good solid thrash song, next is 'Prisoners of Fate' this would be the ballad of the album, but you know what?! I THINK IT'S AWESOME, it's a nice change of pace for the album, starting with a beautiful classical guitar intro, this song does actually get pretty heavy, especially for a ballad, don't just skip this song, it's worth listening to.

I'll skip down to the closer 'Mercy is no Virtue' which closes things down in a thrashing rage, and kicks in right off, with killer verses' and the chorus rules as well, and a nice heavy as fuck break in the middle, which Heathen are sure known for, followed by a solo that absolutely takes no prisoners, with some nice walking of the fretboard, yes indeed they know how to solo.

If you want something to compare this to, it would be Metallica's '...And Justice for All' while it's not a ripoff, they were obviously trying to do something similar to that album, only Heathen did it better! not just because of the production, obviously it wouldn't take much to top ...And Justice's production, but the song writing as well as the riffs and everything else.

Bottom line, if you want some solid power/thrash in the vein of ...And Justice, this is the album for you to check out, I highly recommend this album.

...And Justice For All part 2 - 92%

bayareashredder, February 10th, 2009

By 1991, thrash was growing more and more diverse than it was when it started in the early 80's. Heathen's second album, Victims of Deception, is one of several thrash albums that saw a slight change in the style of thrash metal. Along with Megadeth's thrash classic, Rust In Piece, Annihilator's Alice In Hell, Testament's first three albums, and Forbidden's Forbidden Evil, Victims of Deception is one of the defining technical (or "tech") thrash metal albums. With Metallica laying down the blueprints for "tech" thrash with Master of Puppets and ...And Justice For All, Victims of Deception finishes what Justice began. Victims contains a lot of the elements of Justice with VERY long and complex songs while still containing most of thrash metal's roots. The only song that doesn't clock over five minutes is the short three minute instrumental entitled "Guitarmony".

Vocalist Dave White has a lot of talent and has the tendancy to stay with the highs. He sounds a lot like Joey Belladona of Anthrax and can be a candidate for a power metal band. The guitar players include shredders Lee Altus and Doug Percy. Both are very talented with a lot of influence from Yngwie Malmsteen, Kirk Hammett, Dave Murray/Adrian Smith, and many other early heavy metal guitar greats. Every song features really well crafted and techincal solos and both are very diverse in technique, using sweep picking, fluid legato, and alternate picking. The riffing is very great too. The riffs are fast, technical, and very catchy and the tone and style of the riffs is very similar to that of Master of Puppets and ...And Justice For All. Bass duties were given to Blind Illusion mastermind Marc Bienderman. He doesn't really stand out much other than to provide the "backbone" of the music. The drumming is very good. Darren Miller has a lot of talent and pounds really well. The production is really good too. All the instruments sound great and I especially like the guitar tone.

Victims of Deception contains ten tracks with the average track lasting about six to seven minutes. The album opens with "Hypnotized", which starts with a speach by someone before slowly building up into a crunching thrash anthem. The song is about people being tricked into following religious law and how Dave White believes that religion is nothing but a load of hypocritical lies. Those who join are being "Hypnotized" by the church. Oppiate the Masses is a mid paced song with a lot of complexed structures and reminds me a lot of the title track to ...And Justice For All. Heathen's Song is another long epic, clocking in at almost ten minutes! The album also contains a nice cover of Rainbow's Kill the King, a nice early example of speed metal. Fear of the Unknown is another standout track that reminds me a lot of an Iron Maiden song with Metallica influence. Prisoners of Fate is the albums ballad with a lot of great singing and really awsome lyrics. Lee and Doug pull out some of the albums best solos as the song slowly fades out. Morbid Curiosity is one hell of a speed metal mania. Not one of the best tracks on the album but still really good. As mentioned before, Guitarmony is a three minute composition with a lot of really great guitar playinng. Mercy Is No Virture and Timeless Cell of Prophecy are both what I'd call "filler" tracks. While they're aren't as good as the first half of the album, they are both still fun to listen to. While the band hasn't released a full length since this album, Heathen none the less made this album a thrash classic. I love this album and any fan of thrash metal will love it too.

Great technical thrash! - 80%

Nhorf, September 5th, 2008

“Victims of Deception”, Heathen's second album, is the most ambitious piece this underrated thrash act ever recorded and released. While “Breaking the Silence” had some pretty technical, proggy moments, but was a relatively straight-forward thrash metal album, “Victims” is way more intricate and complex, all the songs are pretty damn long and the musicianship is absolutely top notch. I usually compare this album to Dark Angel's “Time Does Not Heal” as both are two of the most important prog thrash records released, both also being heavily influenced by Metallica's “...And Justice for All”. While “Time Does Not Heal” is a good record, I prefer “Victims”, because it is, at the same time, a complex album but also extremely catchy and memorable. “Time Does Not Heal” contains many long songs but they are too long for their own sake, all of them lacking memorable hooks, which drags the album down a bit.

Anyways, the drumming is way better on this album than on its predecessor; while on “Breaking the Silence” the drummer's performance was tight but still kind of simple, on this piece it is complex as hell and we can never predict what he is going to do next. He also doesn't overuse the double bass pedals, which is a clear plus in my books. Curiously, the double bass pedals sound 'clicky', which proves that Heathen were very influenced by Metallica's “And Justice For All”. The vocals are much better here than on the previous album too, the vocalist clearly adopts a more melodic approach to the majority of the songs, which turns out to be great (see the first half of “Prisoners of Fate”). Obviously, he also sounds pretty aggressive at times.

The guitar work is as good on this album as on the previous, but this time it also is a bit more varied: lots of songs include clean guitar segments, where the two guitar players really show that they can also play some beautiful lines sometimes. “Prisoners of Fate” is a perfect example and so is “Heathen's Song”, probably the best song Heathen ever made. Curiously, it isn't a pure thrash metal tune, it is more midpaced, containing a calm intro, with the gentle guitar lines being accompanied by some melodic vocals. After that, the heavy main riff kicks in and the song quickly becomes heavier until we reach another clean guitar break. After a long and fast solo section, the song ends as it began, with those beautiful calm guitar lines being played again. A fantastic track, one of the best thrash metal songs ever recorded. “Prisoners of Fate” is shorter but also pretty damn good, its first half being, again, quite calm, with the second one being a bit heavier and very catchy (“prisoners of fate! Prisoners of fate!”).

As “Breaking the Silence” had “Set Me Free”, a Sweet cover, “Victims of Deception” has another cover, the classic “Kill the King”, written by Rainbow, the famous hard rock/heavy metal band. While I love the original version and actually prefer it over the cover, I've got to say that it is performed flawlessly: the solos are excellent and the vocal performance astounding. “Fear of the Unknown” follows, being another great tune, very fast and containing a somber intro. The bass is particularly proeminent on this track. “Morbid Curiosity” is another highlight, great riffs and solo (yeah, what a solo, the best one on the album in my opinion). That “what happened to them... could have happened... to yoooooooooooooou” is simply awesome.

The first two tunes are also winners. “Hypnotized” is for “Victims” what “Blackened” was for “Justice”: an amazing track, being quite complex but, at the same time, catchy and raw, setting the tone for the rest of the album. Its structure is incredibly intricate and the chorus is very well written. “Opiate of the Masses” is another complex track, not as memorable as “Hypnotized” but still very strong.

The only two tracks that I don't like that much are “Mercy is No Virtue” and “Timeless Cell of Prophecy”. The first contains some good parts but isn't that memorable and the latter, albeit a tad stronger, doesn't hold my attention. Finally, “Guitarmony” is a little instrumental, heavily focused on the guitar solos. An enjoyable, albeit short, piece.

The production is also incredibly strong, the guitars sounding quite powerful and the drums are very audible. The bass isn't that present though. So, concluding, another great Heathen album and definitely recommended to every metalhead out there who likes technical/progressive thrash metal. If “And Justice For All” is your favourite Metallica album, be sure you check this out!

Best Moments of the CD:
-the solo of “Morbid Curiosity”.
-the ending of “Heathen's Song”.
-the spoken intro of the opener, “Hypnotized”.

Simply better than the debut! - 90%

CannibalCorpse, August 24th, 2008

I must admit that I've just recently started listening to this thrash metal outfit again since I haven't really had much interest in thrash lately, until only a few weeks ago. But this album is mainly what rekindled my interest into that metal style again! Since then, I've listened to a fair share of thrash bands but I still always come back for this very album.

Yeah, maybe "Breaking the Silence" was a tad faster, maybe it was a bit more relentless but I really don't give a flying fuck. "Victims of Deception" is just better in all areas. The soloing is fucking fantastic. Yeah, what I'm saying is that this album has the best solos and leads in all of thrash metal. These guys are wizards on their instruments, as they managed to churn out blistering solo after blistering solo, seemingly without effort. Another great thing are those truly moving acoustic passages (best example - "Heathen's Song"). I really don't know why a guy like Lee Altus wastes his time with Exodus nowadays, but I guess that's an entirely different story....

The riffs are also very good, maybe not always reaching the amazing quality of the solos, but they are more than satisfying and fitting. I have heard of people calling this "groove-metal-influenced"...damn, they should either buy themselves a new pair of ears or fuck off - just because an album is somewhat more mid-paced than the likes of "Pleasure to Kill", "Eternal Nightmare" or even it's own predecessor it's not groove metal, you retards. I'd compare this album to "Oppressing the Masses" by you-know-who if anything (in terms of "thrashiness").

Another very good part of this album are the highly melodic, yet aggressive vocals by David White. Doesn't matter whether he adds to the aggression of songs like "Hypnotized" or "Timeless Cell of Prophecy" or a great tonality and passion in "Heathen's Song" and the very good Rainbow cover "Kill the King" - he always sounds good on this album, another step up from "Breaking the Silence".

Darren Minter is also a very skillful drummer, providing some excellent fills and pounding double-bass work with the overall performance being far above average. Props also for Marc Biedermann who's always delivering a solid, if somewhat unremarkable performance on the field.

What else is to say about this splendid album? Well, for one, this is probably among the best thrash releases of 1991, in a time where the beast of thrash was already crippled, down on its knees and about to die a slow and painful death. I'll even go a step further and say that this might be the best metal release of 1991 altogether, along with Sepultura's "Arise". There are no stinkers on this album, meaning that there is a great level of consistency to be found here, with only the instrumental "Guitarmony" (which doesn't quite showcase the quality of their riffs and leads as their other songs do) and the slower half-ballad "Prisoners of Fate" not quite reaching the standard of the other material.

So, if you enjoy your thrash metal technical, NWOBHM influenced and with brilliant solos, check this one out, as it will most likely fulfill or even exceed your expectations. Yes, this one is essential.

Highlights:

Hypnotized
Heathen's Song
Timeless Cell of Prophecy
Mercy is No Virtue

WINNAR! - 97%

Wra1th1s, May 17th, 2008

Good-glayvin-moyvin-HAAAAYVIN!! What an album! Too bad though, Heathen is a band that sadly died an early death after this album. They did return for a 3 song demo in 2005 but nothing came of it (other than 3 spectacular true thrash songs.)

Alright let's get things out of the way, I pretty much declare Heathen to be kings of flash. What's flash? Flash is a school of guitar technique that is similar to wankery in one area, they both use fookin' hard technique. Unlike wankery, flash actually adds to the song. Case in point the absolutely phenomenal opener "Hypnotized," one listen at the sweeps in the beginning will make you soil yourself at least ten times, consecutively. Flash comes hand in hand with feel, listen to "Heathen's Song" and "Prisoner of Fate."

Yep, Lee Altus has it all (let's forget about his current tenure in Exodus shall we?) and his partner-in-shred Doug Piercy ain't bad either. Singer Doug White (aka Godfrey) puts his pipes to good use, though he's not as impressive as Knutson (who is?). Drummer Darren Minter is quite good, he's clearly an above average thrash drummer but he doesn't stand out from the crowd too much.

Alright, the production is a marvel. The guitar tone is fuckin' sweet and they are front and center in every song. The vocals are a little echo-y but it's still lightyears ahead of say...Bonded by Blood (the album, of course.) The drums are a little distant but they are quite loud. The bass...is not there, I'm not sure but I didn't hear it at all. I feel sorry for Biedermann, his band just bit the dust and Heathen basically said "Hey stand on-stage and look like you're playing bass!"

The songs are fantastic. From the Jimmy Swaggart introduced opener "Hypnotized" to the good-gracious inducing "Timeless Cell Prophecy," they are all fucking classics. Even the ballads are great. And you should definitely listen to "Guitarmony." Also of note is their totally thrashed up version Rainbow's "Kill the King." Blackmore would be proud of the guitar-heroics there.

So, without further ado, I highly recommend getting this album, through whatever means necessary. Best of all, you don't even have to pay for it. It's free from here: [url]http://www.heathenmetal.com/index2.html[/url]

Now we're cooking with gas! - 95%

SilenceIsConsent, January 27th, 2008

Previously, I stated that Heathen's debut album Breaking The Silence was an albumt that showed a transition happening in thrash metal around the time it was released. Numbered were the days when a band could just put out half ass palm muted riffs with entirely whammy bar based solos and sing about Satan and Armageddon. Those days were being cut short, and a new type of thrash metal was starting to emerge. This thrash metal was a musicians genre. This is when the genre starting getting respect and brains, and there are few albums that show this as well as Heathen's second (and final) full length offering, Victims Of Deception.

Victims Of Deception (or VOD for short) is really one of the best thrash metal albums ever to possibly exist. I think that no album after this ever has been able to balance out the thrash and progressive elements of progressive thrash metal quite like it (the only one that beats it is Megadeth's Rust In Peace). This album is heavy and loaded with chugging, fast, and odd metered riffs, mixed with incredibly odd guitar harmonies and rapid lead licks. The album is lyrically loaded with lyrics ranging from the society to religion to the human mind. Heathen have truly outdone themselves on Victims Of Deception, and it will be one hard album to dethrone from it's title as progressive thrash masterpiece.

Alright, in my previous review I think I already stated what's so great about Heathen. Their musicians are like nearly perfect here. I say nearly because I'm a perfectionist but still they are incredibly talented and put that talent to great use. You thought Lee and Doug ripped up the fretboards on Breaking The Silence? Think again. You think Carl Sacco was the best drummer Heathen ever had? Think again. You think David White's vocal abilities were at his prime? Yep, you need to think again. The whole band has multiplied their skills by at least two fold. They really just outdo themselves on VOD by a lot and can't really get any better. It's just that good. Really that tight and that good.

The new musicians here are new drummer Darren Minter and Blind Illusion frontman Marc Biedermann on the bass. Each of these guys are truly great at what they do. I only thought Biedermann was capable of playing the guitar. Man was I proven wrong. When it comes to playing the bass Biedermann is just as tight. His bass lines stick to the guitars but do provide plenty of extra notes to put into use and make them sound more unique. Never is he out of time or anything. Drummer Darren Minter is just as good. His double bass speed is pummeling, rivaling that of your average modern drummer today and then some. The fills he creates are amazing, tight and innovative. Minter's abilities as a time piece are second to none, as he keeps the band in the correct time while keeping up with all the odd meters and weird time signatures that Lee, David and Doug wrote up. Seriously it's hard for you to come by better musicians, and Heathen really got some lucky scores here.

Most of the music here is different from Breaking The Silence. Less of it is written by Doug Piercy and more of it is written by Lee Altus. This means we get more odd metered riffs, more interesting harmonies, more shred in the solos, and just more amazing work. For those of you who need to hear things in simpler terms, compared to Breaking The Silence Victims Of Deception has a more thrash metal sound as opposed to a speed metal sound. I don't think it really gets any better then what you get on Victims Of Deception thanks to what Lee wrote. Musically this album is incredibly sound, and all of it will have you headbanging and wanting to listen to it again and again. That's not to say Piercy doesn't jump in and write some of his own material. Morbid Curiosity is a song written by him, and it's pretty pummeling while being a tad more straight forward then what Lee writes. But when him and Lee put their minds together, you get a song that really just pushes the boundaries. That song is Mercy Is No Virtue. I can't describe how good of a song this is. First off, it's brain crushingly heavy. Second off, it's got amazing lyrics that have to do with governments using psychological oppression (torture, cover ups, propaganda). Third, not only is it thought provoking and heavy, but it's memorable. I listen to this song again and again, and it's something that I can do with the whole album. The whole album is so incredibly memorable that there are really no bad tracks. The only one that I really didn't totally enjoy was Timeless Cell of Prophecy, which sounds like a rehash of ideas used on the first album.

Lyrically, David White really picks up the game. His lyrics are much more powerful and thought provoking on VOD then on Breaking The Silence. Gone are all the occult based themes and in are new themes about society, religion, the human mind, fear, and the industrial military complex. These songs really are truly thought provoking. Hypnotized will make you question Christianity (better then Slayer can), Fear Of The Unknown will make you see just how spineless people are when it comes to trying new things and experiencing something new, and Mercy Is No Virtue will make you see how much information your government is hiding from you all to stay in power. Talk about interesting and powerful, it's really just plain awesome. On top of that, White gets better as a singer. He's totally audible and his vocal patterns are much more catchy. Huge step up in terms of talent.

The production here is a modern one but all the instruments sound like you think they should sound. Nothing overpowers anything else, nothing is out of balance or messed up in the mix, it's just great. The only downside is that I wish it could be louder. Otherwise it's just plain great.

Victims Of Deception is an album that is truly an epitome of thrash metal. It is one one gem that is hard to come by these days, but is well worth finding and listening to. I think anyone who listens to it will like it, and I'll be seeing you on the other side.

Inconsistent - 75%

Human666, November 18th, 2007

Heathen's second album is a more ambitious album than their debut. This is more or less can be categorized as a prog melodic thrash album. The song's structures are quite complex now, there are more intros and much more noticeable leading guitar here and there. The songs are also lengthier than before, mostly hanging between 6 to 9 minutes. In brief, it's clear that their musicianship is much wiser now, but does it says that this album is better than their debut? Well, almost.

I must say that there is a big feeling of missing in this album, like there is a big potential but not the maximum gain. For instance, the opener track 'Hypnotized' begins with a bit lengthy broadcasting, later the song itself begins with a powerful intro. I mean, very intense intro. Excellent by any means: wise structure, well flowing rhythm, intense shredding with the lead guitar and overwhelming climax. Then what? A big letdown. The main riff sounds very fragile and constrained. Odd rhythmical sloppy picking on the same note plus some forgettable power chords=incompetent main riff. The vocals aren't enough solid as well and doesn't fits at all with the riff. The chorus later is okay and the soloing is perfect.

This is the main problem of this album, it's inconsistent. It's not that there are some lame tracks and some great, it's that each song has some weak spots. Some songs begins awesome and later becoming dull and tiresome, and some works the opposite way. Or in a different view, there is a serious problem with the riffage, though the leading guitar is great.

It isn't a bad album after all, but it could be much better one if the rhythm guitar was a bit more tighten. The song writing is excellent that's for sure, the structures are quite convincing and even though that the songs are a bit lengthier than their first album, they flowing great. But it's still quite annoying that there are too much generic riffs among the excellent leading guitars...

Anyway, it isn't their best album in my opinion. It's more ambitious album, less catchy and less impressing after all. But still, if you liked their first album, don't miss it.

Tech Thrash 101 - 74%

HumanShred84, September 16th, 2007

Wow...I can't believe I used to love this album THAT much. This is an edit of my previous review of this album where I gave it a 97 and called it a "Victim of Circumstance"...I must admit I used to borderline jack off to this album, like so many other "hardcore old sk00l" thrashers seem to, but as I musically matured a little, discovered some better metal from other subgenres, and gained a better knowledge of music in general for myself, I realized that Heathen, this album, and the other albums I loved back then aren't very well known for a reason...their not that good.

What one can find in this supposed "underground classic" of an album is some fine technical musicianship and decent melodic thrash metal songwriting, but in the end, a very shallow, "been their done that" musical experience. Basically this takes the two best known well renowned "tech thrash" albums ("...And Justice For All" and "Rust In Peace"), blends them together but with songwriting and originality reduced times 5. It's not a bad album; it's just not that good of an album.

Let’s start by focusing on the positive, because, in spite of my somewhat critical tone of this review, there is really more positive than negative on 'VOD'. There are some really nicely written songs on here..."Hypnotized" is definitely the albums highest achievement in songwriting. It's just a state of the art tech thrash song, from the clean arpeggios in the intro to the heavy buildup, the thrash riffs, the catchy, big chorus, the Yngwie-esque solos...everything you'd want in this kind of music. "Opiate of the Masses", "Heathen's Song", "Fear of the Unknown" and "Mercy Is No Virtue" are also highlights, and indeed Heathen shows they can write some pretty nice melodic but at the same time technical thrash metal.

The musicianship is also definitely not the problem, these guys can play. A lot of people have commented on the guitar duo of Lee Altus and Doug Piercy, and while these two quite honestly aren't the best I've heard, even within their genre (Calvert/Locicero anyone??), they can definitely lay down the riffs on here (some of which are quite technical) with ease. The solos sound like basically more melodic Malmsteen solos, which are decently technically impressive and work fine in the song craft. Dave White can belt too, there is no doubt he is an excellent vocalist, balancing aggression and operatic vocals sort of like Russell Allen by way of Joey Belladonna. My personal favorite musician here is Darren Minter though; the drums on here are really the highlight for me. They have the excellent "wall of sound" drum tone that I absolutely love, and this is probably one of the first metal albums to use triggered double bass, which really shows Minters skills combined with his excellent fills. The bass is audible only in a few songs, but is not terrible, and quite honestly in this style of music the bass almost never does anything anyway (exception: Watchtower).

So you've got some nice melodic songwriting and good musicians, as well as decent production (actually, especially for this era, the production is excellent), what can possibly be wrong...Heathen has an extreme lacking of individual personality and being able to "play outside the box". They simply do not branch out too much, with the exception of the equally if not more formulaic "ballads" ("Prisoners of Fate" is borderline painful, this sounds like it could have come straight of a Warrant album, and I mean that). Some of the more mediocre thrash songs on here, particularly "Morbid Curiosity", just screams "Bay Area Tech Thrash 101", and even the above mentioned tracks, despite their melodicism and catchiness, just sound rather dull. While Heathen's more talented and as a result more historically revered contemporaries like Forbidden, Coroner, and Watchtower were making music that pushed the boundaries of thrash as we know it, Heathen seemed very content with following the standards set up by...you guessed it..."Rust In Peace" and "...And Justice For All" for early 90's tech thrash.

I would only recommend this album for someone who's REALLY into technical thrash metal...otherwise this should only be purchased if you have some extra money and nothing else really good is coming out. This is actually Heathen's better album by far ("Breaking The Silence" suffers from the same case of "101", but only even more generic). For tech thrash, I would strongly advise getting "Rust In Piece", "Twisted Into Form" or even "Distortion", "Mental Vortex", "Control & Resistance" and "Time Does Not Heal" instead of this. For metal overall, there’s so much stuff out there that’s just so much better and more original than this, and that you don't have to buy off eBay...

Final Score: 74 (81 was WAY too high)

Best Songs: Hypnotized, Opiate of the Masses, Fear of the Unknown, and Mercy Is No Virtue

Two in a row for Heathen! - 90%

UltraBoris, August 3rd, 2002

Two of the greatest thrash albums of all time - and this one can't possibly be mistaken for speed metal (not that that is a bad thing!) This is the album Metallica should have put out after And Justice for All. Or, instead of. In fact, instead of everything after Ride the Lightning. The guitar tone sounds almost exactly like Ride the Lightning, but Doug Piercy and Lee Altus can actually fucking shred.

The best part of this album is probably "Opiate of the Masses" with that awesome chorus - "power is the fix!" David Godfrey (aka David White)'s vocals are in top form, and the riffs are constantly catchy and bludgeoning at the same time, just like thrash is supposed to be. Other highlights include the opener "Hypnotised" with that Jimmy Swaggart or whomever intro, and also "Timeless Cell of Prophecy" and the 9 minute long "Heathen's Song". Yes, they change that song about once a year, and it's different on all the demos and all the albums and most of the bootlegs, and they make it completely different from the riff-o-rama from Breaking the Silence while keeping it completely and utterly awesome.

Any weak points? Prisoners of Fate is the obligatory ballad, and thus doesn't go along at 336 beats per minute, but is overall not bad. The album actually manages to keep my attention for 64 minutes, so that's definitely a winner.