Heaven Shall Burn – Of Truth & Sacrifice Review

We’re currently living in some batshit crazy times, friends. Between the United States being heavily divided to the point where people within their own political wheelhouses are fighting with each other, political tensions throughout the world where another war could erupt practically any minute, and now COVID-19 wrecking havoc on our daily lives, it’s not an easy time for anybody. There’s enough anger to go around to power a small nation, and very few metalcore bands channel that anger as effectively as Heaven Shall Burn. Just like with nü-metal, metalcore often gets a bad rap, but bands like Heaven Shall Burn showcase that even the most maligned of genres can produce some incredible music, and on their ninth album, they spread their rage over the course of a nineteen-song double-album.

And if disc one, Of Truth, was any indicator, Of Truth & Sacrifice would easily be one of Heaven Shall Burn‘s best albums to date, as the four year gap between this double-album and Wanderer sees them recharged. As soon as instrumental “March of Retribution” bleeds into the monstrous “Thoughts and Prayers,” all the key components are still there. Guitarists Maik Reichert and Alexander Dietz continue to heave incredible riffs with impeccable melodies. Markus Bischoff still sounds as visceral as ever, delivering his pointed lyrics with venomous potency, and Christian Bass continues to absolutely kill it on drums, especially on “Eradicate” and “What War Means.” The biggest change is just how well just about everything flows on Of Truth. With the exception of the poignant-yet-overly-long “Expatriate,” Of Truth is hands-down the strongest collection of songs the band’s written since Whatever It May Take way back in 2002. There’s no denying the potency and heart that went into this disc.

Sadly, there’s also no denying that disc two, Of Sacrifice, is a mixed bag. Opening with “Children of a Lesser God,” for whatever reason Heaven Shall Burn decided to start the disc up with their (comparatively) weakest songs on this collection, with the opener throwing too many moods into one song, making it feel longer than necessary. Elsewhere, despite the incredible guitar solo and Peter Murphy-esque clean vocals on “The Sorrows of Victory,”1 it, again, throws too many things at you in its eight minutes. Worst, though, would be “La Résistance,” which is straight-up techno. Yes, I get that their cover of Killing Joke‘s “European Super State” was as well, but it doesn’t suit the band at all. That said, Of Sacrifice also features some of their most lethal songs to date, with double-album standout “Tirpitz” reaching (and nailing) that “Amon Amarth on Red Bull and rage” that “Trespassing the Shores of Your World” from Deaf to Our Prayers unleashed.


From a production standpoint, if you’ve heard a prior Heaven Shall Burn album, you know how Of Truth & Sacrifice sounds. Sure, it’s loud as hell, and sometimes Eric Bischoff can be buried in the mix, though you can feel him on “Tirpitz” and “Übermacht.” But their production is just as much a trademark as their songwriting, and it’s a mix that’s served them well over the last couple of decades. Also, where classical instrumentation is implemented, like on “The Ashes of My Enemies” and “Weakness Leaving My Heart,” it sounds lush and breathtaking. Still, I feel a bit torn about the overall delivery of this double-album. Honestly, if they’d taken the best parts of Of Truth and Of Sacrifice, and trimmed off the fat, we’d have a colossus on our hands, instead of a mixed double-album.

And that kills me because, once again, when Heaven Shall Burn are on fire with their trademark mix of Earth Crisis meets Bolt Thrower songwriting, they’re a force to be reckoned with, and we get a lot of that on Of Truth & Sacrifice. Sadly, we also get some unnecessary filler, diluting their message a bit. Still, I’d rather have too much Heaven Shall Burn than none at all, and I’m glad to see them return, blemishes and all. Besides, a large portion of this double-album will absolutely slay live.2

 


Rating: 3.0/5.03
DR: 6 (both discs) | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: heavenshallburn.com | facebook.com/officialheavenshallburn
Releases Worldwide: March 20th, 2020

Show 3 footnotes

  1. It’s not clear from the one-sheet provided, but word has it that those vocals were provided by Caliban‘s Andreas Dörner.
  2. Whenever the COVID-19 quarantine dies down, that is. And when it does, guys, COME TO AMERICA.
  3. Disc One: 4.0/5.0, Disc Two: 2.5/5.0.
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