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Heathen - Empire of the Blind

Empire of the Blind
by Jean-François Poulin at 18 September 2020, 3:32 AM

HEATHEN are a Bay Area Thrash Metal Band. They were formed in 1984 by Lee Altus formerly of other great Thrash Metal bands, ANGEL WITCH and EXODUS. They were unfortunately pretty much inactive from 1993 to 2001. They released an album called ‘’The Evolution of Chaos’’ back in 2010 and this is their first since the reissue to that album earlier this year. This is the first album to feature Jason Mirza on the Bass and Jim DeMaria on the Drums.

Nothing better than something really fast and heavy when the cold weather is striking down in the Province of Quebec. HEATHEN should be explored, not stay hidden. What I am saying is that I don’t consider them as underrated nor ignored, but the fact of the matter is, they were lost in the shuffle of the Thrash Metal peak. You had so many Bay Area Thrash Metal bands back then and they didn’t get their due. It’s been one hell of a year for Thrash Metal, we had some really great albums from the likes of WARBRINGER, HAVOK and TESTAMENT. I know a lot of bands in the genre are working hard on new albums like ANTHRAX, METALLICA and MEGADETH, so it’s gonna be a great late 2020-early 2021 for the fan out there. HEATHEN packs a real punch and keep the tradition alive and pull out another great Thrash Metal album.

They are a far more technical Thrash Metal band than a lot of the bands out there. The musicianship is highly underrated and rather addictive. I like bands that try something a tad different and the far more technical side of things is always a treat for the listener. They are very reminiscent of an older band called TOXIK, a highly regarded yet underappreciated band.  Energetic and unrelenting catchy choruses make ground for some seriously enjoyable riffs. It’s a nice balance of Mid-Tempo stuff with the frenetic 80’s Thrash Metal pace. There is something for everyone and it’s a real throwback to their first release back in 1987 called ‘’Breaking the Silence’’.

The high points for me were the title track, ‘’Shrine of Apathy’’ and ‘’The Gods Divide’’. Those are the songs I really want to hear live if we ever get back any concert at all in the next year or beyond. Those are standout and real headbangers, a throwback (again with that word!) to the heyday of the genre. They showed on this album that they are on the same boat as the other big bands out there in the world of Thrash Metal. They can dish it out like the best of them and they should be more appreciated and discovered again. It’s a damn shame that they were lost in the shuffle back then but now they are back to the forefront, ready to conquer again! A solid effort from an unsung band!

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. The Rotting Sphere
2. The Blight
3. Empire of the Blind
4. Dead and Gone
5. Sun in My Hand
6. Blood to Be Let
7. In Black
8. Shrine of Apathy
9. Devour
10. A Fine Red Mist
11. The Gods Divide
12. Monument to Ruin
Lee Altus – Guitars
Jason Mirza – Bass
Jim DeMaria – Drums
David R. White – Vocals
Kragen Lum - Guitars
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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Edited 30 November 2022

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