I can't say I was surprised when I found out that this band hails from Greece. Let's say that nowadays, I can't be surprised of anything going on when it comes to Euro bands doing great by creating old-school related Metal. To the matter at hand, the debut album, "Behind The Perfect Mask", of VERSUS HEAVEN, previously named BETRAYED, blew me away. As a big fan of 80s oriented US Metal, I was blown away by these guys with a wonderful mixture of Heavy / Power / Thrash driven by the old US Metal scene. This album felt like as if the band exactly knew what I was looking for in Metal from top to bottom; either its the bombastic production or the band's musical pattern, it was just think to drive me nuts, in the positive way. However, quality has to be considered as well. Needless to say that in that area as well, VERSUS HEAVEN did me a fine service.
Digging into their musical taste and influences, by judging this album, several names came crashing down on me. Practically, most of the names like early MEGADETH& METALLICA, HELSTAR, HEATHEN, ICED EARTH all those were packed in a nice delegate of old school Metal. So, what can be educed from this is lots of power, some technical features of well developed riffs added by classic riffs of Thrash and Heavy Metal . Moreover, you got to check out the solo breaks, even though after the initial listening I thought otherwise, I came to the fact that the lead exchange between Mimis & Tasos are spectacular. What was added by VERSUS HEAVEN, aside from a full time US musical involvement, mainly stands in the mixed theatrical & aggressive displays of vocal abilities by the band's new singer, Kostas, which helped on inserting a wide range of emotions to "Behind The Perfect Mask" that in a way sounds and feels like a concept album. Alongside talented Kostas, the blow on the head was soften a bit by the addition of a few keyboards lines along some of the tracks. Not that they will enter you into a dream state, but those provided a fine aura to the profound heaviness.
Leaving the material behind, the production on this album should be acknowledged. Although at the beginning, through the opening track "Betrayed", there were a few setbacks regarding the mastering, especially when the volume started shifting from the low to high as the song runs. Afar from this rather small, the others sound amazing. The sound that was provided is modern, yet crunchy and fluent, very late TANKARD like. In end, the producer made sure that everything will click right on with finesse.
To summarize, VERSUS HEAVEN's debut album is the strongest thing in US derived Metal that was created this year. With vibrant energy, VERSUS HEAVEN were able to inflict craze with their talent and their musical direction. Let's see if these guys will go on through this way once again.
Highlights: Almost all of these tracks are fabulous, exceptionally "Betrayed", "Time Does Not Heal", "Unexplored Land" and "Art Without Pain".