Heathen - Official Website

Victims Of Deception

United States Country of Origin: United States

1. Hypnotized
2. Opiate Of The Masses
3. Heathen's Song
4. Kill The King (Rainbow Cover)
5. Fear Of The Unknown
6. Prisoners Of Fate
7. Morbid Curiosity
8. Guitarmony (Instrumental)
9. Mercy Is No Virtue
10. Timeless Cell Of Prophecy

Review by Felix on June 4, 2024.

It was 1991, I was still young, when Heathen released “Victims of Deception”. In keeping with the triumphal march of the CD, which had begun in the meantime, and its higher capacity, Heathen presented a full 65 minutes of music. Their debut had not blown me away, but it was a matter of course to buy this work as well. At the end of the day, the result was similar as before. “Victims of Deception” is a solid, partly good work, but cannot piss with the big boys of classic thrash. And it’s an ironic twist of fate that especially the higher capacity of the new medium became a problem.

Anyway, the first thing I realize during my rediscovery of the album is the feeble, nasal voice of David White-Godfrey. One could almost think he suffered from a bad cold in the recording studio. His vocals are the weak point of the actually strong opener “Hypnotized”. One gets used to his singing, but the closer “Timeless Cell of Prophecy” presents another very mediocre performance from him. The track holds Forbidden-compatible melody lines and he just accompanies them without setting his own accents. That would not have happened to Russ Anderson.

Unfortunately the only instrumental does not make things better. “Guitarmony” is a pretty useless intermezzo and much too long (3:32) in view of its meaninglessness. To put it on the album was a wrong decision and the same goes for the vapid cover of “Kill the King”. Already the debut had shown that Heathen were not immune against the appropriation of foreign (and outdated) songs. Their own material was more exciting, especially highlights like “Opiate of the Masses” with its Exodus-like riffing. Some other tracks almost reach a very good level, but their sheer opulence makes it difficult to dedicate them my undivided attitude. To me, thrash metal was both music and rebellion and the second part comes off badly when we speak about Heathen. Their approach was always a pretty adult and a more artistic one. That was and is okay, but I miss the fiery heat of wild thrash eruptions.

On the other hand, the material on “Victims of Deception” is free from embarrassing childishness and some strong harmonies let us know that Heathen are aware of the importance of catchy sections. This leads to songs like “Fear of the Unknown”. They do not lack substance, variety or melodies, but many parts of them are closer to some rather mediocre Metal Church tracks than to pure thrash. I do not find the smallest grain of insanity and that’s a pity. Aggravating the situation, the production sounds a bit muffled. The mix lacks pressure and does not convince with aggressiveness. It is no big deal and the technical implementation does not ruin the compositions, but it is also far away from being perfect or at least very good.

Let me ignore the ballad “Prisoners of Fate”, because its chorus tastes somewhat greasy. It makes more sense to focus on “Heathen’s Song”. With 9:27 minutes it is the longest track here and its first edition had been released under the name “Heathen” on Under One Flag’s “Speed Metal Kills II” compilation (Flag 17) in 1987. This version is three minutes shorter, compact and its guitars spread some aggressive vibes. I do not need to lose more words, you already know which configuration I prefer. “Heathen’s Song” is not bad, but worse than its older brother and at least 10% too cosy. It shows clearly that Heathen were victims of the new possibilities of the CD. So sorry, despite the great potential of the band and some fine sections and songs, “Victims of Deception” has never entered my private pantheon of thrash metal.

Rating: 6.1 out of 10