Heathens // Oh, Mock the Heavens and Let the Heathens Sing
Rating: 4.0/5.0 —Definitely worth checking out.
Release Date: Out now…
The bread and butter of a heavy metal is the unsigned band. If you are patient enough to dig through piles and piles and piles and piles and piles and piles and piles and piles of shit, you will find the prototypes of up and coming bands. Bands in their infancy, but who are producing something that is heretofore unheard of. Or maybe they’ll just be doing something old remarkably well. Or maybe it’s a blending of the two, successfully putting together a sound that few have heard and being super kick ass at the derivative stuff. In any case, what I’m trying to say here is this; you’re bound to find a band that stands out after enough time reviewing underground stuff. However, knowing where to look is a bitch. So when I was directed to the South African black metal band Heathens by Lord Doom, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to like the material or not. Fortunately, Lord Doom is a man of impeccable taste.
The world of metal is expanding due to the interwebs, and with it localized scenes are kind of dying, local sounds aren’t really showing up in the way they used to (but they still do show up). A perfect example of this would be South Africa, where all the bands I’ve heard of sound totally different. The newest example of this is Heathens, which is playing a style of black metal that I would characterize as borderline black n’ roll, a la newer Darkthrone. The similarities definitely aren’t great if you’re comparing it just to new Darkthrone, however. While the music is raw and simplistic, it is still way more black metal than punk rock or hardcore, with great Taakesque vocals. Maybe Nachtmystium would be a better comparison.
The music is pretty simplistic, however, and there seems to be more focus on energy and structure than on speed, and the cover of Black Sabbath‘s timeless classic “Iron Man” definitely points out where the band is drawing at least some of its style from. The tracks are short, as well, songs not pushing the three minute mark except for the final track which ends up at about 5 minutes in length. But they don’t lack for substance. Instead, the band knows what works and what doesn’t work and seems to really just cut the fat. This leads to catchy riffing, like the opening riff on the record “The Return”, which disappears far too quickly and leaves listeners definitely wanting more.
Really, every song on this all-too-short EP is worth listening to. And while there is no way that I’ve even done this remote justice with my comparisons and descriptions, I can say this: the material here speaks for itself. The band is producing material that is unique, interesting and invigorating in a genre that is filled with far too many shitty clone bands. Not only that, they have managed to do it while avoiding the whole Amesoeurs trend and they’re not stealing Wolves in the Throne Room‘s sound either. This Angry Metal Guy firmly suggests you buy a copy of this EP, share it with your friends and jack up your Black Metal Credâ„¢ by buying other Heathens merch. These guys sound promising and I’m looking forward to hearing more than 22 minutes of their music.