Review of ‘Doom II’ by Witnesses

Review by Ryan Murray | July 25, 2020 | Official Facebook

Witnesses, a genre-defying Doom Metal band out of New York, NY, that was formed in 2016, released their 6 track album “Doom II” as a self release on May 31st, 2020.

In their press release, it’s stated that this album is about a plague that is born at sea, which makes it to land, to a village that hopes its story will not be forgotten.

This album is simply a masterpiece! From beginning to end, I absolutely love the story it tells. The instrumentation is perfect, and really carries a story of its own! The vocals are filled with emotions of both pain and hope.

To me, this album reminds us that even in the darkest of times, we need to have hope and try to survive even the hardest of plagues.

On This Black Ocean
This album opens up out on the dark ocean. Drums and guitars start off this dirge like track, followed by just bass and vocals. This track is more down tempo, but that doesn’t take away from the power behind the vocals, instrumentation and emotion. 

To me, while this song is about the beginnings of a plague at sea, it can also refer to the plague of a life without hope. When we go through life without hope, we very easily become “another blind ship in the fog”. 

“Alas, another blind ship in the fog
Starboard – it’s too late
There’s no one living

On that vessel
A mirage of life
Was all it was
A trick born of hope
On this black ocean”

I Hope Their Prayers Aren’t Answered
This 11-minute plus track opens up with more of a black metal sound, with heart pounding drums and a lot of speed/tremolo picking on the guitars. After about a minute, the atmosphere completely changes into more of a dirge like feel, which is where it stays for the remainder of the track.

At 3:12, all instruments pull back and we get just keys with a very low and eerie chord progression.

At 4:40, there’s a really interesting section, both instrumentally and vocally. I almost feel as though I’m listening to jazz-like acoustic guitars during this, and it’s a nice atmosphere with the vocals. And the vocal range is really shown as well.

At 7:01, the drums and guitars starts picking up again to bring back that dirge like atmosphere.

The music ends at 9:17, but is followed by sounds of a creaking empty ship with low growling like winds blowing in the background.

“Now they throw themselves
Men overboard
Women overboard
Children overboard”

This track was hard to listen to while reading the lyrics. Such sadness and hurt throughout. With the global pandemic happening right now, there are a lot of correlations lyrically. I think of the many lives of men, women and children that have been effected. I’ve read stories of adults and teens who have taken their own lives due to the isolation of quarantines. A good friend of mine was going through a separation during this whole thing and unable to find work, so he took his on life.

Doom II
The plague makes its way to land! This track starts with just a cymbal, low keys and some occasional drums. Then the vocals come in with strings, which really add to the atmosphere, and I really enjoy the stings throughout this track.

The guitars come in strong at 2:12, but at 3:12 everything pulls back into a lighter, almost soft jazz like acoustic atmosphere. This only lasts a moment until the distorted guitars follow back in.

There’s also a really nice guitar solo at 6:42 which goes through to the end. 

“They brought all the dead into town
The dead want to be found

But none’s more selfish than a dead man
Who wants to be remembered
After three days
The wails in the night began
A murder here
A murder there
We called it doom
We knew it was too late”

For me, this song can refer to the plague of hatred as well. Hatred kills and spreads like a plague.

Worse With Time
This track kinda reminds me a bit of Tool. It opens with synth pads, which create this somber atmosphere, soon to be met by distorted power chords.

Lyrically, this song is kind of a continuation of the previous track. Plagues, no matter what kind, get worse with time. What we do with our time is so important because time is fleeting. Before we know it, we’ll be at our end. What will we have to show for it? Will we be remembered for succumbing to the plague without a fight, or for standing up and fighting against it until the very end?

“Everything I once knew
Everyone I once knew
Is fading away
Like we were never here
We sent a rider with our history
But there was pursuit
And we lost sight at the horizon“

Who Were You Before All This
This track opens with synth pads and keys for about 1:15, then vocals come in along with distorted guitars and drums. We also get a blast beat about half way through this track!

This track, to me, is about how when it comes to the end, we’re all the same. Mothers, fathers, rich bankers, poor farmers, smiths and the like. When we get to the end, is it going to matter how rich we were? Or is it going to be about what we did with our time and did we stand up to the plagues in our lives? Right before your end, who were you?

“Take this father
Then take this banker
The farmer and the rich
They pile up all the same

Catch fire
And sweeten the air
‘Tis them
Who lost humanity”

An Ending
The final track! This track opens right away with distorted, dirge like guitars. From 2:44-4:44, everything pulls way back creating a very light atmosphere. I really like the vocals here during this pulled back section.

Will the plague be our ending? Or will we rise up to defeat the plague?

“And these are my last words
Spoken from another place
Between two worlds
In a deep dark void
There’s nothing left for me
To see, hear, or feel
Nothing here begins again“

Verdict
This album is amazing! Truly a masterpiece! The vocals are simply amazing with very nice range and emotion throughout. The instrumentation is just perfect.

To me, while this album is about a plague out on the sea, that plague symbolizes so much in real life. Hatred, anger, resentment, selfishness, racism, a lack of hope and so much more. We can rise above these plagues, and that’s why to me personally, this album is just as much about hope as it is about the plagues.

I give this album a 4.9 out of 5!

If you haven’t heard “Doom II” by Witnesses yet, you’re missing out! Please give it a listen!

Review of ‘Breaking Infinity’ by Gabriella Metz

Review by Ryan Murray | July 6, 2020 | Official Facebook

Gabriella Metz is a singer/songwriter who was accepted into Berklee College of Music where she is studying to earn her Professional Music Bachelor’s Degree.  

Her press release states that she began studying piano when she was just four years of age. By the time she was sixteen, she had completed all academic levels of her music studies at the time and had also earned her Vocal Performance Diploma from the renowned London College of Music.

Her debut EP “Breaking Infinity” was released on May 3rd on all platforms!  

This EP is absolutely amazing! When I heard the first single called “Grey”, I was instantly hooked. The vocals are stunning. You can feel so much emotion and power behind every lyric. Whether singing a bit softer or a bit louder, there is so much control and the tone is just beautiful. Gabriella’s vocals are hard to compare, because she uses mixed elements to her voice. There are times when she sounds more like Norah Jones, and at other times she sounds more like a younger Amy Lee of Evanescence or Christina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil.

The musical arrangements are just beautiful. From the piano to the strings, everything is meticulously thought out and nothing is superfluous. Vocal and musical dynamics are perfect leaving the listener wanting more. The way the dynamics build throughout these songs is spot on. 

Why Don’t You Love Me
This track starts off with just keys and strings. Gabriella comes in with warm and soft vocals with a jazz feel, reminiscent of Norah Jones. This song starts out beautifully and the intensity of emotion builds with every crescendo, both musically and lyrically. 

This song seems to be about loving someone who doesn’t love us back in the same way, as well as the walls that are built up when we push those who love us away. 

“Why don’t you love me?
There’s nothing else I need
Why must I feel the pain I do?
Every time you walk away from me
I tried to understand you
When no one could
But I could not get near you
From where I stood”

Walls 
This track has a bit more of a synth feel with strings, a nice drum pad groove and has some beautiful non lyrical singing throughout. At times, this song reminds me of “Field of Innocence”, an Evanescence song from their pre “Fallen” work called “Origin”. I absolutely love the vocals and music on this track as well. 

This song seems to be about the games we play in our own mind when we tell ourselves we aren’t good enough and the internal walls that we build. When we spend too much time in our mind, we tend to become our own worst enemy. 

“Layers of regret
And look at where we are
In the end we’ll both forget
We’re only at the start
All I’ve done is try
Emptiness is all that’s left inside
Left inside
Wicked games of your mind
Played you till they harmed you
Your spirit was blind
Always wounded by you”

This song really hits hard for me. Years ago, I had a pretty serious knee injury. I ended up with seven different sprains, tears and fractures from the one injury, one of which being a severed ACL. I was non weight bearing for the first eight weeks of recovery before I was even allowed to start PT. I thought I would never walk again.

Once PT started, I felt even more afraid that I’d never walk again. The pain, stiffness and tightness was overwhelming. The war that I was fighting on the inside was strong. I was my own worst enemy.

As a Christian, I credit my faith in God for getting me through that. Getting out of my own head was so insanely hard, and just letting go and trusting that He would see me through this was a hard struggle. Several weeks after I had let go of the fear, I took my first unassisted steps at therapy. A few weeks after that, I was walking again, unable to tell what had happened.

Grey
This track starts out with keys and some ethereal sounding light and airy non lyrical vocals which add to the effect of this song. When Gabriella comes in with the lyrics, she comes in soft, but with obvious emotion. Strings and drums join in at the first chorus and really add a lot of feeling. It even breaks down into an acoustic guitar towards the end.

“Grey clouds
Passing by
Hang on for life
Grey lights
Dark nights
Please relish the fight
To look in your tired eyes 
The courage is real”

This track, to me, is about the inner “grey” that we face during times of internal struggle, as well as the “white lies” we tell ourselves when we try to just avoid the obstacles that we face. We try to tell ourselves that we can just avoid the hurt and difficulty of being our own worst enemy without ever really confronting the darkness head on. 

“White lies steal you from me
White lies won’t help you to breathe
We face a new day
Don’t let it fall into grey”

Broken
This track sees Gabriella starting with just vocals, followed by keys. When the chorus comes in with strings, the dynamics of the whole song change. It’s really beautiful. The use of dynamics in this song is spot on!

This song, to me, is about the broken promises that we all face and deal with at some point or another. After we’ve dealt with more and more promises that are broken, we build up a wall to protect our hearts because we can’t take the hurt anymore. 

“Broken promises
We both allow
Dysfunctioning compasses
You’re leaving now
Broken promises

No one understands
Muted choruses
It’s out of hand”

Awake
While Gabriella’s voice is great on this EP, this song really showcases her range and versatility. Her range on this song goes from soft and subtle, to really powerful, yet still in control. 

This song opens a bit more softly, with strings and light vocals which beautifully build stronger and stronger throughout with great dynamics.

This song seems to be about the limited time we have together and loving who we have. In our dreams we never age, but when we’re awake, we do. This song seems to be a call to spend our time wisely.

“If you were there when I was waiting
If you were there when I needed saving
Free from all the sorrow
Eager for tomorrow
With soul 
With soul
Awake my body fades

And you love what remains
I must no longer hide from you
Drops of time
Can help me climb”

Why Don’t You Love Me (Alternative Version)
So this is a more ethereal sounding version of the opening track, and I really love this version! I think this is my favorite version of this song. Both the vocals and the backing instrumentation is beautiful. Gabriella’s interpretation on this version of the song is completely different then the original version. 

Broken (Acoustic Version)
This acoustic version has just keys and strings backing Gabriella’s voice. This really draws out her voice even more, and this changes the dynamics and mood of the song. I really like the strings that start really softly at 2:29 and continue to build in intensity.

Grey (Acoustic Version)
This acoustic arrangement has an acoustic guitar open up on its own, followed by a mellowed Gabriella with lyrics. A viola slowly builds in during the chorus and adds a whole different level to the sound. This song is interpreted completely differently as an acoustic version, and it really has a nice atmosphere!

Verdict
Overall, I’d have to give this EP a 4.8 out of 5.0! Between musical arrangements, instrumentation and vocals, Gabriella’s performance on this work is just terrific! The backing instrumentalists also deserve a lot of credit, as they blend very well together! If you haven’t heard “Breaking Infinity” yet, I highly recommend you give it a listen! 

Review of ‘Darkness’ by Stitched Up Heart

Review by Joshua Becker | June 30, 2020

Stitched Up Heart is a rock band originating from Los Angeles, California, and founded by Alecia “Mixi” Demner. Their latest album “Darkness” was released on Friday, March 13th, 2020.

Upon listening to the album, it seems be a nice mix of rock, and some industrial metal elements, with the electronic sounds in the background. Even though the band is labeled “rock”, it seems like they may have experimented with some industrial metal, given the heavy presence of electronic sounds throughout the tracks.

Another thing I am noticing about the album, is it kind of reminds me a bit of Paramore, and has a bit of a punk rock element to it as well. Lyrically, a lot of the lyrics from the album are very dark, and suggest a struggle, whether internal or external.

I get the feeling “Mixi” may have went through some very dark times during the song-writer process that inspired the somber lyrics. The first three tracks of the album, I get the sense of an inner struggle “Mixi” is doing what she can to face.

When we get to “Warrior”, it sounds like she has finally started to piece things together, and even build up the strength to know her worth and fight the good fight.

“I’m a warrior, and I know what I’m fighting for”. This line reiterates what I mentioned earlier: she has found her strength and knows how to use it.

In “Dead Roses” there is a line of the song “you can’t break a heart that’s already broken”.

This tells the listener “Mixi” has been through some shit, and it’s almost as if she’s saying “you can’t hurt me anymore, I have been down more than you can imagine, and what you are doing, or trying to do won’t make any difference to me.”

The next track “Crooked Halo” is very harrowing, with lyrics like

“I saw you making eyes, you don’t want none of this
I’m a one way ticket to a sinking ship
You can march to the beat of my awful symphony”

Why does it seem like “Mixi” is suggesting that she is a disaster and you should avoid her or you’ll regret it the rest of your days?  There seems to be a lot of deep pain being reflected in this track, and it is extremely disheartening.

Finishing off the album, we get to “My Demon”.
This would have to be the darkest most metal-sounding track on the album.
One of the lines in the song really speaks to the vibe of the whole album.

“I become one with my demon
Let the beast outside of my mind
I become one with my demon
My dark side keeps me alive”

Suggesting to me that through her journey (the album), “Mixi” has fought with herself, and fought with others, and she has become one with her demon (possibly herself and her experiences).

In terms of an overall, this was a very interesting listen, and it definitely stands out from a lot of other rock/metal albums I have listened to before.

I want to give this album a 5/5.

The composition and lyrics are very dark, and very telling of pain, of emotion, of anguish, so many multi-faceted emotions throughout. The production sounds great, the mixing and mastering sound very professional, and you don’t have any tracks where the singing gets washed out by the instruments, or vice-versa.

I am very impressed; great work!

Interview with Stitched Up Heart’s Alecia “Mixi” (2020)

Interview by Joshua Becker & Jessica Clingempeel | June 25, 2020

First, I wanted to say that I saw you in concert last year in Cleveland, and you guys were great.
Awww thank you! That means the world to us.

You were so interactive with the fans in the audience, acknowledging them in the crowd as they were singing along to your songs, and that was just awesome.
You’re very sweet. I try to connect with everyone I can at the show as much as possible. I know, for me as an audience member, I love when bands notice me, so I know how it feels and want everyone to know I see them and I’m grateful they took the time out to watch us!

Are concerts easy for you to get right into, or do you get nervous at times? From what I saw, you seemed so comfortable like you were right at home.
Honestly, it took me a while to be comfortable when I first started. I forced myself out of my comfort zone when I realized I wanted to play my songs in public. It took time to eventually be one with the stage. I still get butterflies before I go on for any show but it seems like as soon as I start a switch is turned on and I’m a whole different person.

Your latest album “Darkness” was such a powerful record, and the lyrics were so dark, and so profound.
Thank you. Hence the album title Darkness.

When did the decision arise to name the album “Darkness?’ and what led you to that?
We wanted to be consistent with Never Alone by using a song title off the album as the album title. The song “Darkness” was dedicated to a few close followers of the band. It was written to take them out of the dark and scary mental state they were in and bring them out stronger. The whole album is meant for every listener to attempt to do the same.

During the writing process, what was going through your mind? It seemed like you were dealing with some very personal things in your life.
I dug deep. I definitely had some major challenges that I was working through at the time. I decided to let myself be vulnerable and voice my thoughts and feelings honestly. I wanted to connect with anyone feeling that way and be their medicine.

When it comes to songwriting, do you have a certain routine like a cup of coffee, or something, to get the creative juices flowing?
I have found that meditation before I write is very helpful. When I’m in writing mode I also listen to a lot of motivational speakers to learn and teach concepts that I’ve attached to the music.

Continuing with the album, I could not help but notice the industrial metal influences in the background. What made the band decide to add the electronic sounds in the background?
It was really just to try something different. There are so many ways to create sounds through electronics and in rock we aren’t just limited to guitar, bass, and drums. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can make it sound much different by messing with synths and chopping up my voice to create its own electronic sounding instrument in the background. We just wanted a modern edge to this album.

I know the Coronavirus outbreak came about late in the making of this album, but did it have any influences on the writing, or even the instrumentals?
No. We were done writing this over a year before the virus hit.

Being that you are all in California, one of the hardest-hit states for the Coronavirus, how has this affected your day-to-day?
I am a homebody as it is, so I am pretty good at staying home. That part hasn’t changed. I haven’t been exercising as much and have been surviving on cupcakes since the pandemic started. Which, by the way, I have perfected the art of. Also, wearing a mask and trying to smile at people you pass at the grocery store is a little awkward. We all have to do our part.

Did you take up any new hobbies while you are waiting this out like everyone else?
Baking has been a new one, and gardening, which I have a lot to learn still. I also redecorated the house!

Is it possible the Coronavirus may be inspiring you to write material for your next album too?
It will definitely have some influence as I draw from current life events in the writing process.

I found in an interview way back that you experienced homeless when you first arrived in L.A., and that really made me tear up. I want to say I am so glad you have since found a home, and you are doing much better.
Yes. That was a scary time. I had just moved to LA with a boyfriend and it didn’t work out. I was lucky enough to find couches to crash on and at times would just sleep in the back of my car on a pile of clothes. But this city is tough and it made me who I am today by going through that. I’m definitely a road warrior from living like a gypsy.

If you knew you years ahead of time this would happen, would you do anything different, or plan anything different?
I would save more money. $1,000 was all I had and I didn’t realize how expensive it was gonna be to survive here. But I stuck it out and am now living comfortably.

Furthermore, with so many in the world facing homelessness, what can we do to really make an impact?
I try to give change if I have it on me when I pass by someone. Some aren’t mentally stable enough to take care of themselves and hold a job. Some have other reasons. Some people choose that life. It’s very sad. But $1 goes a long way.

Do you have any homeless charities you have worked with that we could donate to, for example?
I used to work for the Los Angeles Homeless Service Coalition when I was actually homeless. We would petition at grocery stores and raise money for the homeless. It was too difficult for me to do as I was currently living out of my car at the time, so I didn’t work there very long. I would suggest looking up a church that feeds the homeless or a local food bank in your area online.

What about advice for those who are homeless?
I would suggest staying off substances. For a lot of them, that is unfortunately what keeps them on the streets. Substance abuse is a real disease and is very hard to overcome. For some with mental illness, or who choose to fly under the radar, it’s difficult to tell someone how to live their life. Jobs definitely help and there are programs to help shelter and feed them.

I also see you are a huge animal lover and work a lot with Kitten Rescue. Did the passion for animals start with you as a child, or is this something you discovered later in life?
Animals are simple innocent creatures to me. There is something so simple yet so complex that draws me to them. There is a peace and sense of purpose I feel when I am helping an animal. Doing something selfless for something else is my soul food.

Do others in the band have the same passion as you Alecia?
They all love animals. You’re not allowed to be in the band if you don’t! Hahaha but I’m the one with the intense drive to keep doing the volunteer work and connecting with fundraisers.

At present, how many animals do you all co-habitate with?
Well… I have 3 cats. I am currently fostering 3 two month old kittens who will be going to a different foster mother soon. I am currently volunteering at California Equine Retirement Foundation (Cerf) that helps care of retired racehorses and rescues. It gives those homeless animals a sanctuary to live out their days.

With Covid, we wanted to do something to get others minds off it, so I have some additional questions I would like to ask (if you have the time, since there are quite a few).
Even when you don’t have much, do something selfless. That is all 🙂


Survey Questions

What made you want to become a musician?
I have just been drawn to instruments since recorder class in elementary school. It was my favorite class, so I continued band in middle school playing the tuba. Once I got to high school, I found the guitar and it was all downhill from there!

What are some of your hobbies outside of music/career?
Painting, animal rescue (obviously), art.

If you had to be anyone else for a day, who would that be and why?
I am comfortable being me, but maybe a bird so I could fly!

Do you have any pets?
I have 3 fluffy cats

What is your favourite animal?
This answer has changed over time but I’m gonna go with a unicorn this time!

Are you a Herbivore, Carnivore, or Omnivore?
I like to say a liberal vegetarian. I try to eat very little meat but sometimes I feel like my body needs the nutrients and I cave in.

A new law has passed where only one genre of music is allowed, which would you choose? (It is totally alright if you choose Disney music! No judgment here.)
Rock ‘n’ roll babyyyy!

What is your favourite country?
Well, I haven’t traveled anywhere aside from Canada & Mexico, yet, so I’m gonna say it would be the one I was born and raised in…USA.

What foods do you love to devour?
My grandma’s recipe of mac ‘n’ cheese!

Apple or Android?
Apple! 100%.

Where are you from?
Born in Atlanta GA. Grew up in Orlando FL. Lived my adult life in Los Angeles, CA and I am currently in Riverside CA

What was your favourite possession as a child?
My pets, even though they weren’t my possession. They’re my friends. They probably own me more.

What is your favourite possession now?
Same answer!

What motto do you live by?
Be kind.

Do you play video games? If so, what do you like playing the most?
I have a love hate relationship with video games. When I get sucked into a game I will play forever. I have to stop myself or it will consume me! World of Warcraft is my kryptonite.

Which gaming platform do you prefer?
PlayStation or PC

Any particular soundtrack you would recommend to people?
All of the God of War soundtracks or Doom is pretty sick too!

Are you into any comics, manga, or anime?
I was into anime for a while. Watched over 250 episodes of Nature till it became fuller and I got bored.

You are now stuck on an island with only one item (cannot be phone.) What is the item you choose?
Guitar

What is your favourite colour?
Fluorescent clear.

You can bring one famous figure from our past back to life, who do you choose and why?
Jesus would be interesting!

Any embarrassing moments to tell?
One year at Rock on the Range I was crowd surfing on this epic inflatable Pegasus pool float and it popped. That was pretty embarrassing.

Were you a good student or a class clown in school?
I was a B student artsy kinda kid.

Ocean or Mountains?
Beach babe.

If you had to play in a film, what kind of part would you want to play?
The rocker chick

Top 5 Musicians/Bands
The Beatles, Metallica, Louis Armstrong, NIN, and Linkin Park

Top 5 Shows/Movies
South Park, Ancient Aliens, Supernatural, Grandmas Boy, and anything with The Rock.

Top 5 Books
The Missing Piece. Mindfulness books and self help books.


Review of ‘A New Death’ by Five Minutes Hate

Review by Ryan Murray | May 30, 2020 | Official Facebook

Five Minutes Hate is a death metal band from Italy. After their debut release called “Explanation to Failure” in 2016, FMH has followed that up with a sophomore release entitled “A New Death”.

The band states in their press release “The common thread that unites the 10 tracks wants to continue the concept tackled in the first album: the rebirth through the death of a new subhuman race, in a post-apocalyptic scenario of desolation, which in this new guise will make its way through darkness and chaos.”

This album is definitely a step forward for FMH! I had checked out their debut album also, and this new release is a much stronger production all around! The mix sounds really good, with a more modern sound and musically I like the direction this new album has taken. There are definitely some more melodic, almost metalcore like guitar riffs that remind me of bands such as All That Remains, As I Lay Dying and others.

Mediocrity Will Be Your Grave
This album starts off heavy with a punch right away with this solid opening track! The guitar riffs are a mix of death metal and more of a melodic metalcore sound with heart pounding drums throughout. At about 2:07, you get the idea of a break down coming, which kicks in in full at 2:19.

As a society, we tend to get complacent and we seem okay with being just mediocre. We tend to pass the “extra” stuff off, thinking that we can get away with putting in very little effort and settle for the least of things. We allow this complacency to control us and don’t see the need to break out of it. 

The rest is not your job
and neither are you aware of it
marionette of the new world
Puppet animated from below

The Man You Will Never Be
This song starts out aggressively with a sound that almost reminds me of In Flames. With heavy, yet melodic guitars and heart pounding drums, this song really draws you in and hooks you. I found myself going back to hear the riffs on this track several times! Also, around 3:00 in, while the instruments pull back quite a bit, the aggressiveness almost gets even more evident. 

In what seems to be tying up lyrical meaning from the first track, this song seems to share the idea that ignorance and mediocrity go hand in hand. When we are so complacent with the status quo, we don’t seem to care enough to want to change it, even if it’s for the better. We reject anything that doesn’t coincide with what we think or believe in and we reject it and refuse to listen. 

Rejection is the evil‘s food
Refusal is the evil’s source
A vicious circle of death
The future of our species“ 

Under Its Claws
This song is aggressive right out of the gate! With more of a death metal feel than the last song, it’s got aggressive vocals, a break down feel at :13 seconds, and death metal style blast beats all throughout. The lead guitars definitely offer a melodic feel on top at times also. The song ends on a fade out.

This song lyrically seems to about the darkness that is created by our blindness to see the truth around us. We tend to skip into the complacency of walking around blind folded. With so much knowledge at our fingertips, we unwisely turn a blind eye. This song seems to be a call to wake up and take off the blinders. 

“Knowledge now a word into disuse
Belonged to times that seem too far
Because mind is in trap
Custom built for fools
Conviction of right will grow
Conviction to act for our future.”

Cunning Opportunist Individual
This song has a bit more of a metalcore feel with the guitar riffs.  I really enjoy the intro to this one. The vocals are again aggressive and filled with emotion. 

“Human lives are in your hands
Incapable in the trivial things
That will build roads to death 
Which will also involve you too
Your offspring will perish soon
And suffer the sentence you created
Your mind will misunderstand again”

This song seems to be about those in society that are only out for themselves. Those that will walk all over and destroy people just to get what they want, regardless of who or what they exploited on their way there. The decisions we make now will have a serious effect on our children in the future. Will we build a better future for them? Or just repeat the same mistakes over and over again without care for others?

Rising Rain
Starting off with a metalcore feel with some hard blast beats mixed in, you better have your neck muscles warmed up! This is a hard hitting track has got really catchy melodic lead riffs with aggressive vocals throughout. 

“Your deeds feed hate
Confused with love 
The human species will seek it, feed it and preach it”

This song seems to be about being two faced. Many in society tend to say one thing in front of others while they do something completely different in private. Many claim to be doing things out of love, but really it’s with malice and harmful intent. Sadly, many seek this as being good, even though it’s just perpetuated two facedness. 

Monstrosity
This track has another really aggressive start. This one has more of a death metal feel and is loaded with blast beats throughout. With fast guitar riffs and heart pounding drums throughout, this track is an all out assault.

Crying
This track starts off just a bit more pulled back, but then comes in aggressively at about :9 seconds in. This track is also more of a death metal feel throughout.

“A drift approaching, invisible to most
Disguised in future progress

That fools dare to praise
The uniform motion of human existence”

This song seems to be about mankind’s uniformed march towards it’s own destruction. If we continue on our path of blind complacency, oblivious to the darkness around us, we will wake up to a darker future than we can imagine. 

Torment of the Black Sheep
This song starts off with more of a metalcore sound, and the opening riff is really catchy and can be heard throughout. There are a lot of melodic lead parts that are really catchy throughout this track.

“I’m alone surrounded by people
This is our condition
We are the black sheep
In a very big white wool sea”

Lyrically, this song seems to be about being a nonconformist in a world where so many just seem to fall in line with the status quo. Normally, it would be bad to be called a black sheep, but for me, this song seems to say that being a black sheep and standing alone is better than blindly conforming to the status quo. 

B.O.B
This track has a much more laid back intro for the first :44 seconds. Light, but distorted lead guitars play in harmony with a few pinch harmonics thrown in nicely. Then the aggressive vocals come in at :45. Then at 1:03, let’s kick it up a notch with some heart pounding drums. Then at 2:13 the groove flips into a triplet feel which adds a nice change!

“Success, money and health
Have made a huge ego
Walking six feet above the ground

Watching humanity from above
That shows only small men
Like toy soldiers
That you can take and destroy
Can take and destroy 
Whenever you like!” 

This track seems to be about those in power that make decisions without a care of what will happen to the “toy soldiers”. With just the stroke of a pen, wars can begin destroying countless lives. It seems to say that those who are “watching humanity from above” are destroying us without a care in the world.

The Abyss is Venting Up
The final track! Musically I think this is my favorite one on the whole album! To me, the guitar riffs are a blend of metalcore and just straight up metal. I really like the riffs in this one a lot! 

“Hate coming out like lava
Of an acidic volcano
That awaits a millennia 
Before devastating everything!
Humanity will soon be submerged
A new mixture, an alienating substance”

This song, to me, is about the devastating effects that hate has on the world. I really don’t think many understand how toxic and evil hate really is. Humanity is slowly decaying from all of the hate that just seems to be getting worse and worse by the minute.

Verdict
I would give this album a 4.0 out of 5.0. The sound quality is great with a really good mix. I like the balance of the instruments and vocals as well! While I know they are a death metal band, with the seemingly more melodic approach they took on this album, I was hoping there would be even just a few sections with a bit cleaner vocals just to break it up a bit, but otherwise it’s a great album! If you haven’t heard “A New Death” already, definitely give it a listen!

Review of ‘Of Truth and Sacrifice’ by Heaven Shall Burn

Review by Ryan Murray | May 16, 2020 | Official Facebook

Heaven Shall Burn, an extreme metal band that combines elements of metal-core, melodic death metal and death core, originally from Saalfeld Germany, formed in 1996. 

I’ve heard of this band once before, but have never listened to them. Having browsed through some of their past works in preparation for this review, I can say that while their new release “Of Truth and Sacrifice”, a double album, definitely has some of the elements that I’m sure fans know and love, there also seems to be some risk taking/experimentation on this new work!

The name Heaven Shall Burn is also not a religious insult, but is meant as more of a metaphor for the “heaven” that many create in their minds when blinding themselves to the problems in the world. The band feels that these fake worlds created by our blindness should burn. 

Disc 1

March of Retribution
This 1:21 intro really sets the tone for this album and blends into the following track nicely! With electric guitars playing a light lead over intermittent punchy power chords, and drums that build throughout, this greatly gave me a picture of what was to come. 

Thoughts and Prayers
This up tempo song hits hard right off that bat with aggressive vocals, guitars and percussion. At 2:56, everything pulls back and there’s a light, non distorted, acoustic sounding guitar section which is really nice!

Lyrically, this song seems to be about the empty words that come from corrupt leaders and those in power. It seems to talk about the inaction, passiveness and apathy from those in power. It seems to say that since those in power refuse to act, this is the time to act in place of their inactions. It also seems to point to the fact that we yearn for leaders who are prudent, but that there are none left because they are all power hungry.

“We see the signs of time
And we will never rest
You ache for prudent leaders
But they’re all gone
We are the final resistance”

Eradicate 
Another gut punching start! With hard hitting riffs and heart pounding drums throughout, this track doesn’t relent! The riffs on this one remind me of All That Remains! I absolutely love the guitar solo starting at 2:43! 

This song lyrically seems to be about breaking free from oppressive tyranny and that we need to help those who can’t cry for help in fighting that oppression.

“There are no screams, there are no cries
Just dying souls and empty eyes
Their shadows haunting me
But their ghosts won’t break my peace
We had to fight this reign of terror
No choice for me, no choice for all of us, now”

It also seems to say that when oppression is ruining lives that we need to rise up against that oppression. 

“And I know that justice must prevail
Confront the tyrants, confront them all”

Protector
Another up tempo, metal-core style track with aggressive vocals. I love the guitar riffs on this track! I’ve already repeated this track several times, so it really grabs me musically.

For me, this song lyrically seems to be about protecting those that can’t stand up for themselves. Sometimes in standing up for what is right, it may feel like we’re fighting a battle all alone, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do what is right. This song seems to encourage standing alone if needed to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. 

“Believe me
This is the very end
Still I am chosen
To protect and defend
Ride burning skies
Cross dying worlds
But after all, I stand alone
And fight this vital war”

Übermacht
The intro to this track seems a bit of a slight departure from past music from HSB. It almost gives like an NDH/dance metal vibe for the first :39 seconds before the drums kick in along with the guitars with a pretty straight forward heavy metal riff. At 1:01, it’s back to in your face aggressiveness. At 3:28, everything pulls back except for the bass and pads, along with a digital sounding drum beat and synth sounds. This builds right into a hard break down at 4:08! Also, some of the song is in German as well! 

Lyrically, to me, this song seems to be about how many people seek to take others down and how many have superiority complexes, thinking they are superior than others. It also seems to talk about surviving and not bowing down to those who seek to destroy us. 

“Days of the green wolves dawning
A new hegemony ascending, survive at any cost
Now you know, time wasted is time lost”

My Heart and the Ocean
I really like the intro to this song! For the :52 seconds of the song we hear a building drums and distorted guitars. Then at :53 seconds we get a really catchy metal-core riff which hooks me into wanting to hear it more! Another solid break down comes in at 2:54.

This song seems to be about the death of truth and what is right. We face a daily storm. Do we want to seek out truth? Or do we want to stay complacent with lies and deceit? 

“There is a storm so deep within my heart
Still raging and untamed, yet focused and upright
Raised by visions of the future
Now fueled by fury and hope”

As a society, we seem to not care as much about truth as we once did. We seem to walk around with blinders on oblivious to the things that surround us. We sit by and watch the truth be destroyed by opinions and feelings of hatred. 

“As truth was slain so ruthlessly”

Expatriate
This track feels pretty experimental to me personally, but I really like it a lot! It has a really different kind of feel to it! While it’s got some small heavy elements to it, it’s mostly made up of keyboard, strings and a synth drum pads with a different style of vocals throughout. The instrumentals are really quite beautiful to listen to. The best way I could describe the vocals would be to say it’s like aggressive and emotional spoken word. This song is in both English and German. 

Lyrically, this song hits really deep, especially the parts in German. I’ll put a rough translation below from google translate, but won’t offer any of my interpretations because I don’t want to cloud it.

“And like moths around the light
You keep dancing around the fire 
That burns the world, standing loudly laughing and yet Deaf and blind before an incorruptible judgment,
The light from the shadow that separates existence From non-being

Your battered heart, enslaved and cheated by false Dreams, delusion and unspeakable reason, finally Accuses you and your vain gods!
There is no mild mist of oblivion there, no cloth of Silence falls over all the doubts, all the lies!  Because Your knowledge never triumphed over your deeds, you Understood and saw, but never rebelled.  Here you Meet truthfulness, mercilessly.
But also fair and pure.

A cold, clear look in the still depths of your being.
From this abyss, wide awake, you stare at the eyes of All your fears and a thousand voices from your enemies Proclaim a high truth that probably never penetrated Your conscience: your leaders, your colors, all your Beloved states and everything that is sacred to you
Are nothing but flotsam in the eternal tides of Ascension, domination, decline!”

What War Means
Did someone say wall of death? Yeah, I could see that with this track! Aggression right off the bat. A mix of deep growls and hardcore vocals. The drums are very death metal like throughout the entire song, with what sounds like trigger blast beats throughout!

Lyrically, the band seems to be addressing wars that cause refugees to break out and seek shelter in other countries.  They do this to avoid the bloodshed and threats of poverty and homelessness with no security for loved ones. It’s said throughout the song that these wars are televised, but that we’re blind to it and don’t do anything to stop it. 

“An everlasting state of conflict, forgotten and remote
Disregarded and concealed
There is slaughter and bloodshed every day
Hunger, pain and forced migration
So far away from your safe homes
A world engulfed in violence
None of your fathers, none of your brothers
Sons and daughters lost in action
Self-sacrifice, a privilege just granted to the poor”

Terminate the Unconcern
This track starts out a bit more laid back with spoken word and synth sounds surrounding it. Then the drums slowly start to build to an explosive metalcore style song! I absolutely love the guitars in this one! I also love the short, melodic guitar solo at 3:46!

This song is about eliminating apathy and the never ending loop of empty words that seems to plague a good portion of the world. We all talk about a better future, but few are willing to make the changes needed. We need to unite as humanity and not be divided by hate if we want a better tomorrow. 

A fight for ‘tomorrow’
Means the uncompromising transformation of today
Before uneasy truths become just bitter certitudes
Yes, all must change to save the stays quo!”

The Ashes of my Enemies
This beautiful, laid back, yet epic and bold instrumental really stir up some emotions in me. This track with strings feels like it belongs in a scene of a movie showing the aftermath after violence, war and rampage have hit. This is a powerful ending to disc 1.

Disc 2

Children of a Lesser God
This song hits hard right away with an awesome metal core groove that’s also a bit reminiscent of All That Remains. There are aggressive vocals throughout with really solid grooves that get stuck in your head quite easily. I also like the section that pulls it back quite a bit that starts at around 3:21. Again at 4:52 it pulls back even more with just a light drum and very light electric guitar lead, which builds back into a heavy sustained groove to close it out. 

This song seems to be about a few things. Those in power that are corrupt, profit seeking, and look to destroy through their greed. It also seems to be about evil of equality/racism as well. If you read through the lyrics of the song, it goes pretty deep. 

“This is a man, scarred by injustice and defeat
Enslaved and kept away from education
Now so frustrated and distracted 
On their knees they beg for reform, they pray for rescue
To the masters of their earthly misery I swear,
I’ll throw just everything against my bitter fate!”

La Résistance
This track, to me, definitely feels more experimental, but it’s got a really cool sound to it! It also feels like it could fit into the NDH sub genre! This really reminds me of Rammstein! This track doesn’t disappoint, and I’d hope older fans would give it a chance because it’s a really cool track!

This song is titled appropriately, as lyrically it refers to resisting oppression and rising up against it no matter the cost. It refers to the ‘fearful calm’. To me, this refers to those who are being oppressed and are living in such fear that they stay quiet and don’t fight back. This song refers to being a spark to encourage empowerment to fight back against oppression.

“Only one spark to light the masses
To turn the fearful calm
Into a raging storm
To liberate this world
Unbroken, hard minded”

The Sorrows of Victory
Another song that changes it up a bit! This track starts off with a subtle lead guitar, followed by a laid back drum groove with guitar. We then get some clean vocals which kind of remind me slightly of a mix between Sabaton and Moonspell. There are some aggressive vocals throughout as well. 

This song goes through waves, both musically and vocally. You can hear the sorrow and agony. 

Stateless
With more a of a death metal sound, this track hits you right away with hard riffs, heart pounding drums and aggressive vocals. This song is relentless, and doesn’t let up at all until the last :15 seconds of the song at 3:34 we get a nice breakdown to end the track.

“My bitter truth!
I am stateless, just drifting loveless
Born into a dungeon and brought up by despair
Haunted by distress, isolated, dominated…”

Tirpitz
Starting off with spoken word, followed by heavy guitars and drums with a metal core sound and aggressive vocals throughout. 

Named after german admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the Tirpitz was a WWII battleship. The song refers to the Tirpitz as a steel cathedral that was dedicated to annihilation and destruction. The battleship was finally sunk by the British.

“Direct hits out of clear skies, 12,000lb armor piercing Tallboy bombs putting an end to her command. The death knell sounding over this iron tomb”

Truther
In your face death metal is up next! This song is aggressive and packs a heavy punch and doesn’t relent at all. This song has got some really catchy guitar riffs too! 

This song seems to be about the lies that infect our whole planet, as well as the lack of accepting responsibility for our ways – always looking to blame anyone or anything other than ourselves. Whether it be between friends, family, within marriages, or even within our government and leadership, lies seem to be a plague that won’t go away. Not only is it so easy to spread lies and deceit with all of our technology now a days, it’s even harder to fight the lies and to spread the truth because so many are apathetic and don’t care. 

“Mental overload and complete failure
Run like a common thread through all your lives
No, you never take the blame

Scapegoating
Stubborn, escaping reliance
Deny a social contract, no rational perception
Abhorrence of science, elevation of deceivers, hysteria
Infatuation!“

Critical Mass
This song seems to have a little bit of hardcore influence, along with some metal core riffs too. This track is also rather aggressive and you’ll definitely wanna warm up the neck for this one too! I absolutely love the guitar solo at 2:02!

This song is about how we are destroying our planet, and eventually, ourselves. We over use, we destroy and most don’t even seem to care. Governments can’t agree on what to do, so much greed when it comes to power/energy consumption and what we’ll do for our future.

“Slightly insane, the type of greed
That makes a world unfit for life
Toxic wastes destroy our seas
While poison gas pollutes the air
A waste of life, while no one cares
The earth becomes a giant tomb 
Critical mass will be achieved
And ruins will be all that’s left”

Eagles Among Vultures
This one begins with a synth like sound, followed by bass and drums. Then the guitars and aggressive vocals come in next. This track is a more more down tempo, but still manages to be aggressive, yet pulled back at times as well.

This song seems to be about the lack of empathy that society overall has towards the needy and the weak. Instead of standing up for them and helping them, society tends to want to just float right on by, only caring about themselves.

“There’s just no deference
Towards the needy and the weak
I see misuse of power, I feel regard declining
A community so disunited and corrupted
Only first law will prevail”

Weakness Leaving My Heart
The final track of the album leaves me in awe of what I just listened to for the last three nights while writing this review. The first 3:54 is all instrumental made of up of what sounds like synth pads, strings and keyboard. Really a beautiful composition. At 3:55 the drums and guitars join in with an almost straight hard rock groove, followed by aggressive vocals, but still have that underlying groove going with the guitars. The song ends coming back down again with some spoken word. This track is a perfect end to a monstrous double album!

Verdict 
Overall, I’d give this album a 4.0 out of 5.0! From metal core, hardcore, death metal and even some newer, what I’d call an experimental sound with some NDH vibes, this album has got it all! It’s got plenty of what older fans know and love to a newer sound that I think old and new fans can both really enjoy! If you haven’t heard “Of Truth and Sacrifice”, I highly suggest you check it out!