You have to be very patient if you’re a Heathen fan, as upcoming studio album Empire Of The Blind is only their fourth release since their debut Breaking The Silence in 1987. Formed in San Francisco in 1984, they are one of the leaders in the Bay Area thrash metal scene and thankfully have never wavered from that style. So no experimental albums with other artists or albums with no guitar solos on! Due for release on Nuclear Blast Records on September 9th 2020, twelve songs are driven out with aplomb.
Opener ‘This Rotting Sphere’ is an intense guitar-dominated instrumental that builds from laid back lines into a riff-heavy monster. A crushing midway segment precedes the calm before the storm outro. Abrasive riffs thrash and crash throughout ‘The Blight’, backed by an astonishing kick drum battery. A metronomic pound from the grooves in ‘Empire Of The Blind’ and a menacing lead vocal sees it head off into a brief foot to the floor slam as it ends powerfully. ‘Dead And Gone’ is melodic thrash full of earworm guitar lines and the vocals are belted out with manic glee.
Godzilla stomp dynamics propel ‘Sun In My Hand’ along as the choruses are delivered gang like to drive their point home. ‘Blood To Be Let’ is a prime example of the Bay Area crunch – a marauding maul of molten metal and certified circle pit opener!
‘In Black’ is chock full of buzzsaw riffing that sounds like angry bees in a jar for headbanging heaven. ‘Shrine Of Apathy’ is a majestic power ballad with the emphasis being on power due to a lung-busting vocal. ‘Devour’ devours what’s left of your hearing with some pummeling power metal. ‘A Fine Red Mist’ is an instrumental major rager of epic proportions. The fuse is lit for a twin guitar battle fight to the finish of proto thrash pyrotechnics.
Heathen pull out all the stops for their heaviest track here, ‘The Gods Divide’. Guitars blaze away like weapons of mass destruction as a shockwave comes from a ballistic drum battery. After all the energy produced by the album, a brief moment of calm comes from ‘Monument Of Ruin’, a short but sweet guitar lead instrumental.
Heathen – Empire of the Blind is out now via Nuclear Blast