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Heathendom - The Symbolist Award winner

The Symbolist
by Mike Novak at 16 March 2011, 8:08 PM

Oh hell yes! While the description of HEATHENDOM, which compares it most strongly to the works of KING DIAMOND and MERCYFUL FATE, sounded intriguing, it initially brought to mind other bands that have claimed to have had a similar sound and were pretty terrible. However, while there are some similarities to MERCYFUL FATE, especially with vocalist Dimitris Koutsouvelis’s delivery, I think that categorizing them as a continuation of MERCYFUL FATE’s sound does not do HEATHENDOM  justice. Think a cross between MERCYFUL FATE and some of the heavier Power Metal bands like OMEN and MORGANA LEFAY. This is hardly a nostalgia act, the influences serve merely as a springboard for traditional Heavy Metal that comes close to crossing into thrash at times.

The Symbolist” differs a bit from the debut (after hearing “The Symbolist” I quickly tracked an MP3 download of “Nescience”) in that the Doom elements that showed up from time to time are largely absent. For the record, I am a huge fan of Doom Metal, especially if it is done well, but it is hard to miss it when the material is this good. In all honesty, I had been beginning to think that my interest in this sub-genre was fading because a lot of my listening experiences of the past few months have resulted in, at best, moderate interest for the majority of the time with small bits of greatness and moments of high enjoyability. “The Symbolist,” however, held me at rapt attention throughout the duration.

My Obedience,” with its gothic-sounding chorus is a definite highlight, as is the hard-hitting opener “Endistancement by the Null Position,” because after the opening notes kick in I salivate like Pavlov’s dog, knowing that a delicious feast of metal goodness is forthcoming. With the exception of a couple of tracks near the end, “The Symbolist” delivers throughout. And the songs do not stick to one formula either; they are quite varied and dynamic.

The two key components to what make “The Symbolist” and, by extension, HEATHENDOM so great are the vocals and the guitar work. The vocals have the barely controlled insanity of King Diamond mixed with the intensity of a classic singer like Halford or James Rivera. The last time I heard a singer that was this powerful and sang with this much conviction was when I heard Sean Peck of CAGE, but unlike Mr. Peck, Dimitris Koutsouvelis uses his vocals effectively to enhance the song. The guitar work, both lead and rhythm works in solid harmony with the vocals, making me think of SYMPHONY X and the chemistry that Russell Allen and Michael Romeo have. The riffs are intense and rarely fall back on power metal/speed metal clichés or chug-chug filler.

I would have to say that the last time I was blown away like this by a band that was previously unknown to me was when I heard DOOMSHINE’s “Piper at the Gates of Doom.” While this may be more readily available in Greece, I cannot get a physical copy of “The Symbolist” here in the US without having to pay exorbitant import prices. I really hope that a major label like Century Media or Roadrunner Records takes notice because HEATHENDOM seem to have a nearly unlimited potential and I, for one, would kill to see them live. The future seems bright for these stalwarts from Greece and I really hope that the rest of the metal community takes notice.

4 Star Rating

1. Endistancement By The Null Position
2. Alternate Sickness
3. The Symbolist
4. My Obedience
5. Black Euphoria
6. Sanctified
7. The Concept Of Reason
8. Die Insane
9. Prescience Of The End
10. An Angel, A Demon And A Dying God
Dimitris Koutsouvelis- Vocals
Lefteris Vourliotis - Guitar
Michail Vlavianos - Guitar
Yiannis (Blacklad) Moraitis - Bass
George Tsinanis - Drums
Record Label: Metal on Metal Records


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Edited 30 November 2022

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