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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.