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Heathen: Empire of the Blind

Though they've been around since the mid-'80s, Bay Area thrash metal titans Heathen are only just now releasing their fourth album, titled Empire of the Blind, for Nuclear Blast Records. It's been a career full of starts and stops, their debut Breaking the Silence way back in 1987 was a favorite of many, but it took them four years to follow that up with Victims of Deception, and by 1993 the band had broken up, not to reappear until the early 2000's. Even since then, it's been slow going, with lead guitarist Lee Altus' full-time gig in Exodus limiting how much time he can give to Heathen (and second guitarist Kragen Lum as well, who fills in for Gary Holt when he's off with Slayer) but they released the excellent The Evolution of Chaos in 2009, and now, eleven years later, we have Empire of the Blind.

Those familiar with the music of Heathen are once again in for a treat, as the bands riff heavy, blazing technical lead guitar oriented trash is still in full force here, the songs melodic, and longtime vocalist David White is killing it as always. A dozen new songs are featured here, and they range from speedy rippers to more mid-paced crunchy metal anthems, the super clear production allowing all the instruments to shine and White to sound his ferocious yet melodic best. "Dead and Gone" is a catchy metal anthem with some terrific guitar shredding and crunchy riffs, while "The Blight" and manic title track are sure to become Heathen favorites for years to come. "Sun in My Hand" is catchy as hell, a killer chorus complementing a wall of guitar power, while those who favor Heathen's brand of technical, speedy thrash will love "Blood to Be Let", "In Black", "Devour", and the blazing "A Fine Red Mist", an incredible instrumental with some scorching guitar solos, intricate riffs, and locked in rhythms. If these guys ever wanted to go full-on progressive metal, they certainly could, and in fact, there some atmospheric & moody prog-rock elements on the fascinating "Shrine of Apathy", complete with an emotional vocal from White.

Fine stuff yet again from this San Francisco act, Empire of the Blind sits right up alongside the latest Testament as one of the must hear thrash albums of 2020. Hopefully we won't have to wait another 11 years for their next one.

Track Listing
1. This Rotting Sphere 01:44
2. The Blight 04:38
3. Empire Of The Blind 05:51
4. Dead And Gone 03:56
5. Sun In My Hand 04:54
6. Blood To Be Let 03:36
7. In Black 04:38
8. Shrine Of Apathy 04:58
9. Devour 03:34
10. A Fine Red Mist 05:15
11. The Gods Divide 03:35
12. Monument To Ruin 00:37

Added: November 23rd 2020
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 1129
Language: english

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