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”

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”

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”

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”

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. 

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…”

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”

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

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

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!

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!

Review of ‘Crowned & Reborn’ by GAM

Review by Ryan Murray | May 12, 2020 | Offical Site

GAM is a blackened death metal band from Sweden that formed in 2011, originally under the name “Vulture”. GAM has recently released their newest work entitled “Crowned & Reborn” on December 2nd of 2019.  

I had never heard of this band before, but they remind me of Immortal and maybe a little like Cryptopsy.

“Crowned & Reborn” is a brutal assault on the senses – with dark growling vocals throughout, heart pounding drums/percussion and in your face guitars.

This EP is compromised of 6 tracks which are mostly fast paced guitars/bass and percussion. There are some surprises musically along the way though which were really nice! The vocals and music are aggressive and brutal – exactly what you’d expect from a blackened death metal band. 

Feed The Flames
This track starts off with high pitched banshee like screams, which is immediately followed by hard hitting percussion and fast tremolo picking, which is pretty much sustained throughout the entire track. The fast guitars and drums are heart pounding and relentless throughout the whole track. 

An Orgy of Flesh
This track starts out a bit slower with just a slower distorted guitar. Then the power chords hit along with the drums. I really like the 6/8 groove, which during this :45 second intro builds into the main riff nicely! Then comes the onslaught with fast tremolo picking and heart pounding drums. I really like the break down at 3:33!  

Death From Above
Another slow starter tempo wise, but I really like this intro! This track starts off strong on a power chord and deep growls, with some tremolo picking throughout. We then hear a laid back percussion section which, while may sound out of place, blends well into the pulse pounding drums to follow. At around 2:00 in, we get another really cool sounding break down. A nice blast beat to end out the track!

Willing a Holocaust Unto Mankind
Another fast and aggressive track right off the bat with in your face guitars with fast tremolo picking and heart pounding drums. At 1:09 though, we get a nice surprise with an almost tribal like percussion with a break down feel with the guitar riffs. This section sounds really nice musically and adds unexpected variety! Something similar closes out this track with the music slowing down during the last few measures. 

Stygian Shewolf
A little bit more under tempo, this intro seems to have an almost straight metal riff, which is really catchy and hooks the listener in. The aggressive vocals, guitars and drums aren’t too far behind! Starting at 4:02, I think this track has the most catchy break down of the entire EP! 

Bless The Mortar
The final track! This track starts out with what sounds like marching, followed by some power chords and distorted lead guitars. This is a bit more under tempo, but you can still still feel the pulse pounding energy throughout. 

Overall, while blackened death metal isn’t my favorite genre of music, I would give this EP a 3.5 out of 5.0! Musically, I love it all!  From the heart pounding drums, to the surprise laid back bits of percussion, to the in your face guitars and even the time signatures, I really enjoyed it musically!  Lyrically, I really can’t relate to the meaning behind the lyrics and to what the songs are about. For those that are really into blackened death metal, this band won’t disappoint!  

Interview with Zack of Abated Mass of Flesh

Interviewed by Jessica Clingempeel

Abated Mass of Flesh Facebook

Watch Zack answer the questions and/or read below!

First, tell us a little bit about the band; how did the idea for the band’s name come about?

Hello, we are a brutal death metal band that started in 2011. When we started, we wrote lyrics centered around the Christian faith. This was something that gained us a fair amount of attention. People seemed to be drawn to what we were doing, so that was very encouraging to us. Since then, we have expanded our sound by experimenting with genres such as slam and deathcore. Our name was derived from the word “Abated”. I haven’t really heard that term used before and it seemed unique. So I wanteed to create a name that represented our sound and grabbed people’s attention. “Abated” means to reduce or take away and “Mass of Flesh” was added to resemble humanity as a whole. The original concept of the name was meant to represent the denial of human flesh and instincts as an act of worship before God.

Zack, at the beginning you did the vocals, but decided to place your brother, Matt, as the vocalist. What was the reasoning for that?

Matt and I have always been close and we work great together as a team. After the release of our first EP, it was time to move on to the next release. I was thinking of ways to make it different and more dynaminc, so I decided to have him take over on lead vocals for “Brutal Death”. It was more encouraging and motivational having him on board and I wanted him to be a part of what I was doing and it’s been great having him a part of this band. It means alot to both of us.

Some would say that the sound of your band is very interesting, especially being a Christian band. Have you had any criticisms from people who don’t understand the death metal genre?

Maybe a little in the beginning. We were on a Christian label and had some push into internet world. Alot of people started hearing about us, some understood it and some didn’t. But we haven’t really had any major critisism over the years. I feel that people now see where we are coming from and see that we share a genuine passion for making music together.

Were there any challenges when recording ‘Eternal Harvest’? How did this album differ from previous?

There were some challenges. Most of the songs on that album were already written but we didn’t have enough material for a full length record. So we decided to re-record “Violence” and “Deathcrusher” and write some new ones in the studio. We hit a stopping point not long after we started and put the release on hold for over a year. During that break, we spent our time playing shows and releasing EPs. We eventually picked it back up full steam and finally released it.

Sammy Slamdance (Abyss Walker) was featured on the song ‘Caverns’. What was it like working with him and any chance of him being featured on any future releases?

That’s a possibility. It was great working with Sam. He’s very professional and has a great sense of humor. He alow produced, mixed and mastered the album. We felt pretty relaxed working with him and we were satisfied with how the album turned out.

There were some re-recordings on this album. What made you guys decide to re-record the selected songs, are there plans for any more re-releases?

We had been playing those songs live for a while and wanted to have the updated versions featured on the release. We play them differently now, so we wanted to include them with the new touches we added: different drum patterns, time signatures and guitar leads.

Regarding re-releases, the latest release was the re-recording of ‘Moth And Rust In The Temple Of Putridity’. What made you want to re-record this album? Were there any major changes?

It was in discussion for a few years. One day I was online and saw where there were some that wanted to have it re-released. It didn’t take much to encourage me to start the process. Right away, I decided to start working on the songs and artwork. I didn’t want that release to be an exact copy of the original. So alot of the songs are different. In some ways, it’s a completely different album. Different riffs, drum parts and time signatures were introduced. Overall, it was a fun experience to revisit those old songs and give them a new feel.

Besides Christianity, what other inspirations do you draw from when composing lyrics?

I would say life experiences and alot of experiences with emotional and mental instability. Several lyrics were written about anxiey because that was something I have dealt with for years and it definitely shows in the earlier material. Some lyrics touch on coping with modern day society and the complexity of finding hope and faith during dark times.

Has there been any song(s) that was hard to compose? Any that are very personal?

Alot of the songs are personal to me because I have written them from my own perspective. Matt usually gets strong vibes when we play “Saul I Am” live. We also feel alot of energy when we play “Premonitions Of The Infected”. Some songs have been more difficult to write musically and play live. We don’t get too technical with our playing, but sometimes the pace can be challenge on the faster songs. Guitars have always been “slow and low” as we like to say, but our drummer Riley is always pushing himself to new limits with his playing and we’ve been able to see him grow over the past 5 years. It’s been incredible.

If you had to introduce one of your albums to a new listener, which album would you choose and why?

That’s a good question. It would probably have to be “Eternal Harvest” because of the quality. People seem to gravitate to that album the most and I think it is a good representation of where we are at currently as a band.

There are so many metal festivals around the world that I think AMOF would do well in, including Wacken. Are there any particular festivals you guys wish to play? How about bands you would love to tour with?

We have had the privilage of playing Exodo Fest in Mexico as well as Audiofeed in Illinois. We have had the best of times at both festivals and we look forward to playing them more in the future. Playing a festival like Wacken would be an incredible experience, hopefully that will open up for us as a possibility in the future. We always love playing shows with our friends in Broken Flesh and Taking The Head Of Goliath. We have made friends with some amazing people on the road and we look forward to seeing our friendships grow.

What other bands do you guys like to listen to?

We have a wide variety of interests. Let me try to give you a long list of bands that we jam often: Tomb Mold, Devourment, Spectral Voice, Suffocation, Pathology, Abigail Williams, Cannibal Corpse, Cephalotripsy, Condemned, Morbid Angel, Defeated Sanity, Dark Funeral, Malevolent Creation, Bathory, Slayer, Xasthur, Katatonia, Deicide, Cradle Of Filth, Ingested, Venom, Whitechapel, Testament, Darkthrone, Epicardiectomy, Satyricon, Death, Emperor, Gorguts, Amorphis, Burzum, Decapitated, Carcass, Antestor, Meshuggah, Dying Fetus, Immortal, Wolves In The Throne Room, Behemoth, Mortification, Broken Flesh, Dimmu Borgir, Napalm Death, Mortitian, Earth Crisis, etc. We are also into several post rock bands, noise projects, trance music, ambient music, electronic music, traditional heavy metal bands, jazz, alternative and grunge bands, indie bands, metalcore and deathcore bands, hardcore/punk bands, etc. Our interests are always growing and expanding.

What are the various other projects of the band members? How are they going?

We have several projects outside of Abated. I’ll start with mine: Numbered With The Transgressors, Cadaverous Contingency, Propitious Vegetation and Flayed Alive. Other projects we are associated with: Weathertalk, Sadspeller, NGC 4414, Crypric Rising, Envothril, Triple Threat, Men Without Armies, etc. Riley and Thomas are associated with several more projects and bands. All of these works keep our creative juices flowing when we aren’t busy working with Abated.

What are some other hobbies that the band members love to divulge in besides music?

Hiking, kayaking, graphic design, painting, traveling, movies, beer, coffee, working out/exercise, cooking, coffee, fitness/nutrition, shopping for records, spending time with our families, etc.

Many have varying opinions when it comes to Christians listening to secular music, what are your thoughts on that topic?

People have different thoughts on this topic. My answer is not for everyone. Christians deal with this in their own way. I had a history of limiting my music based on my beliefs. My interest in other bands grew and my beliefs begin to change. I listen to music for the sake of the music. If it makes me feel something, then it has an impact on me and that is what music and art is all about. I may not agree with the topics and content of alot of the music I listen to, but that does not mean it isn’t good music and art. As an artist and musician, I personally don’t want to be so close minded to what’s around me. I have opened myself up over the years and I feel like I find out more about myself each day. To me, life is about experiences and growing and learning from them, not building a camp and drawing your lines. If there is music and content out there that makes people uncomfortable and stresses them out, maybe it’s in their best interest to avoid that content for the sake of their own well being.

What is the band up to now as far as recording goes? Anything in the works?

Yes, we have been writing a new album and playing some new songs. Things are going really well, we have grown closer together as a band and have had more opportunities to play shows lately. This has given us a chance to play some of the new material live and the response has been great so far. We’re really excited to get these songs recorded and put this next album out.

What else would you like to say to the readers?

First, thank you for this interview. These are really good questions and they were fun to answer. And we would like to thank everyone for the support and interest in what we do. It has been a great journey watching this band grow. We have had countless memories and we look forward to many more. We appreciate each and every single one of you. Be blessed and take care of one another. Peace!