Breaking The Silence
Review by Felix on February 9, 2020.
1987 is long ago. The year saw a military coup in Burundi, Ronald Reagan had reached retirement age but played President and Greta Thunberg was less than a vague thought in a hopefully not warmed up galaxy. Thrash / speed metal was still young, and Heathen’s debut presented an over-averagely melodic kind of this fascinating style. The album consisted of seven own compositions and a cover. So far, so good. But due to whatever reason, these dudes thought it would be a good idea to present their edition of Sweet’s “Set Me Free” and this choice showed that there was no clear line between the establishment and the band. This fact hurt my juvenile “thrashing outlaw pride” and, even worse, the number sucked. Thus, the nadir of Breaking the Silence is obvious, but what about the other side of the quality scale?
Heathen had a knack for cool riffs and the debut shows this feature impressively. A very good example kicks off “Open the Grave”, a song that unites all velocities of thrash metal after a mid-tempo beginning. It’s a dynamic headbanger with a nearly perfect mix of melodic and metallic elements, although its silent break with the dreamful guitar would not have been necessary. The voice of David Godfrey also finds the balance. His voice does not mirror brutality, but he cannot be blamed for a half-hearted performance as well. He does not fascinate with an overdose of charisma, but he gives all that he got and that’s what can be expected; everything else is a stroke of luck. Anyway, let’s get back to the music itself. (Not only) the A side of the vinyl is dominated by clearly defined, speedy guitars and up-tempo drumming. “Pray for Death” and “Goblin’s Blade” deliver very solid and robust lines, the guitar work reveals a certain affinity to early Metallica. “Death by Hanging” puts the two aforementioned songs in the shade due to its immediately memorable chorus and this means that the songs of the entire A side formed a strong unit.
The production offers a prototypical eighties sound. The guitar tone does not lack sharpness, the vocals are on a par with the instrumental performance and the overall picture of the sound is neither voluminous nor flat. However, the mix was and still is good enough to make songs like the title track to a very positive listening experience. (And I am speaking of a truly positive thing, not of a positive pregnancy test which is sometimes not that positive.) Its chorus glitters with a profound heaviness, the instrumental part surprises with strong melodies and all different sections go hand in hand. Yes, it might be that every metal track is a saviour after four minutes of torture called “Set Me Freeee-eeee” (this crappy chorus!), but we don’t need to discuss this here. The energetic “World’s End” combines rasping guitars with catchy sections once again and the closer crosses the finishing line without showing any signs of serious weaknesses. Heathen probably did not pen an ingenious work and presumably it is no coincidence that nobody picked out this album for a review in the last five and a half years. Nevertheless, it is still worth listening and I am sure that most friends of Forbidden, Testament or Vio-lence will share my point of view. Only the opinion of Reagan, Thunberg and the generals of Burundi is not known.
Rating: 7.5 out of 1092