For a couple of years, we haven’t really heard much from Heaven Shall Burn, on Aristocrazia we remember them with great pleasure from their devastating performance at Brutal Assault 2015, a few months before the release of the peculiar Wanderer. In fact, the band from Thuringia has recently focused on the gigantic work that led to Of Truth And Sacrifice, a colossal double album released — as usual — by Century Media Records.
The concept behind this work is the fundamental importance of truth, in an era in which the powerful and the media trample on it and obscure it on a daily basis, together with the sacrifice necessary on the part of people to tear this veil of lies and reach something real. After seeing him at work on the cover of the latest My Dying Bride album, Eliran Kantor is back with a great artwork depicting the sacrifice of a warrior who shields a naked child (presumably a personification of the truth) with her own body. The album is divided into two discs, one focused on truth and one on sacrifice, which show different faces of a band that has grown a lot on a compositional level since the times of Antigone or “Endzeit”. Clearly, the need to kick Nazis and multinational corporations remains one of their key stylistic features, but this time Heaven Shall Burn have made some steps forward on many more levels.
The first disc starts with a rush of HSB’s signature brand of hardcore-tinged melodic death metal with heavy-flavored solos, featuring for example a song on the usual “Thoughts And Prayers” dedicated by the powerful to the victims of predictable disasters and tragedies. Things get more interesting in the middle, with the almost Rammsteinian “Übermacht” and the following “My Heart And The Ocean” (with a nice video shot together with the eco-pirates of Sea Shepherd), invitations to fight the criminals who are endangering our species and all others. The most particular song of the first CD, however, is “Expatriate”, which develops over eight minutes of keyboard and electronic arrangements from which distorted guitars and vocals break in from time to time, reminding us that «They will not claim this world» (this reminded me a bit of “Prologo” by Italian hardcore band Marnero).
Another curious aspect in Of Truth And Sacrifice is the choice to switch between English and German with a certain frequency, even within the same song. During the abundant hour and a half that composes the album, Heaven Shall Burn included atmospheric instrumental bits (“The Ashes Of My Enemies”), massive blows (“Truther”, “Stateless”) or semi-industrial ones (“La Résistance), the cover of “Critical Mass” by Nuclear Assault (HSB often pay homage to their main influences) and songs with a great emotional power such as “Children Of A Lesser God”.
As you might have seen by now, Of Truth And Sacrifice is not the usual record by the German quintet, but at the same time it is something that only they could have pulled out, the appropriate musical and conceptual evolution of what the band had done in the last decade, and probably the most complex work of their entire career. The album is also the musical companion to a documentary shot in cooperation with the director Ingo Schmoll: Mein grünes Herz in dunklen Zeiten (“My green heart in dark times“), which describes the making of Of Truth And Sacrifice also in light of the social and political context. In short, if you were wondering what had happened to Heaven Shall Burn, here you will have enough answers for the whole year.
There is no conflict, as none of you has any interest in me.
Where rights of men should rule, there are just blindness,
Disregard and apathy. Your shining promise,
This so-called pursuit of happiness, it is all exclusive,
It’s just a lie to keep you warm.
(“Children Of A Lesser God” – disc 2, Of Sacrifice)