Apart from one of the best names a metal band can have, Heaven Shall Burn is one of the most consistently awesome and bulletproof metal acts around today. In a time where metal has slipped into trendiness and self parody thanks to bands like Dragonforce and The Sword, Heaven Shall Burn crush the poseurs and those of weak fortitude with their latest offering Deaf to Our Prayers.
Always intensely political and socially conscious, Heaven Shall Burn begins their secular march with "Counterweight." This song is more of a throwback to the older Heaven Shall Burn days when the Bolt Thrower influence was almost overbearing. This song, however, is executed well and keeps their own sound intact. The rest of the album takes more of a melodic death metal tone; something that they've been doing since Whatever it May Take. If you're shaking your head and thinking of passing this record over because melodic metalcore has practically killed this sound- don't. If anything, this record convinces me that melodic death metal is still alive and kicking.
The guitar riffs aren't aimless, and there's thankfully a lack of the palm-tremolo picking patterns from their last album. I guess the claim may exist that this album is mosh heavy, but this style of metal always has been. I'm kind of disappointed in the fact that this album really never goes to a really fast tempo, but then again poorly played blast-beats are the new breakdown. The lyrics, my favorite part about this band, take more of an anti-religion stance than anything else, are a bit stupid on this album at times. "Defending the Throne of Darwin" just had me shaking my head and wishing they wrote a song about veganism instead of Myspace. Yes, there is a song about Myspace on this record.
The biggest gripe of all, however, is the running time for this sucker. With a running time of 47:47 this album really drags on. If they had cut off all the songs after "Armia" and ended the album with "The Greatest Gift of God" I wouldn't have a complaint about this album. I understand metal bands like to drag it out, but at least try to make the last few songs so crazy and heavy that my boredom goes away. While not better than Whatever it May Take, Deaf to Our Prayers is definitely an improvement over Asunder, and hopefully Heaven Shall Burn tours the US with Maroon. xVx!
For the uninitiated, Heaven Shall Burn is a German metal band that is heavily influenced by Bolt Thrower. Deaf to Our Prayers is their fourth proper full-length, along with splits with Caliban and Fall of Serenity, as well as a rarities collection. This new album continues their hyper politicized message in their lyrical content that is informed by the vegan straightedge stance that its members take. That is not to say that they are focused on these labels or lifestyle choices. The politics is the message stressed which is a refreshing motif.
As for the music itself, Deaf to Our Prayers contains a non-stop bludgeoning. Heaven Shall Burn deftly moves from song to song while placing the maximum amount of crushing volume and bottom necessary to give the melodic guitars a full, robust backdrop. The major complaint that I have with the production is the intermittent mechanical sound of the drums.
"Counterweight" is a pummeling way to kick of the album, but the most impressive part of the song is the dueling guitars that play at heavy riffs and mix in very melodic runs that keep the track interesting. The vocals fit the music very well, and there is thankfully no clean singing found, just the vicious death growl that persists throughout. "Trespassing the Shores of Your World" has an awesome sounding muted guitar riff that lays the blistering rhythm while a subtle melodic lead actually sits in the background. I like the way that Heaven Shall Burn changes things up by focusing on that rhythmic section rather than the lead. The keyboard section near the end of the song is well done and not cheesy (thankfully). There is a good set of lyrics in "The Final March" with an excellent reference to the English Luddite movement of the early 1800's. "For generations we slaved away in the shadows of their towers / the world we know, a torture chamber / born as servants, exploited till death / To their machines we're marching with Captain Ludd in mind."
Even though the beginning to "Of No Avail" is signaled by a keyboard interlude, the song is not soft (well by Heaven Shall Burn's standards I guess it is). There is more excellent lyrical content to be had in this song. "Our weakened legs and tattered shoes will cause no sound on icy streets... Cursed be the God who is deaf to our prayers / As we died in freedom their machines broke down for a day." The music is rather somber with an almost morose mood to it. "The Greatest Gift of God" is the closing track to the album. It starts with a lonely drumbeat until a choir of screaming individuals proclaims "False prophets rule your life." I like the effect that the song creates. The guitars sound big with soaring melodies that sound like the band has not lost all hope for human kind (that may be a bit melodramatic but I felt like sounding pretentious).
Deaf to Our Prayers is further proof that Heaven Shall Burn produces consistent, crushing records with an intelligent political bent to the lyrical message. I admire that the band expands on their beliefs rather than falling into the trap of self-parody that so many other vegan straightedge bands (not that many continue to exist) fell into over time. Deaf to Our Prayers serves as an excellent starting point for listeners, and I would recommend it to any metal fan.
7.4 / 10
Reviewed by 2 writers.
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