Heaven Shall Burn - Veto

Posted on Monday, May 13, 2013

German Metalcore masters Heaven Shall Burn hit somewhat of a creative wall with their Iconoclast trilogy. The two albums it produced (2008’s Iconoclast and 2010’s Invictus; part 2 being a live CD/DVD affair) certainly aren’t bad records —I don’t think these guys could make a bad record if they tried— but hindsight exposes them as being significantly less memorable than Heaven Shall Burn circa 1998-2006. That’s to be expected. When you begin your career with four full-lengths that range from nearly flawless to perfect, it’s damn near impossible to sustain that level of awesomeness. However, you can’t just keep releasing the same solid-but-forgettable album every two years, either. I think with Veto, the group has unequivocally addressed the need for change, albeit with mixed results. It should be noted that they took an extra year in between full-lengths for the first time ever. That’s it, boys. Let us miss you a little. (How many artists in this day and age would do well to take that advice, eh?) And while it’s really more of a spice-up than an actual stylistic change, Veto succeeds at separating itself from the rest of the discography with its own distinct feel. As I said, this is still a Heaven Shall Burn LP through and through, yet there are unique subtleties. For instance, I bet you never thought you’d hear these Teutonic titans of the pit start things off with Guns n’ Roses’ “Don’t Cry” arpeggio on loan (“Godiva”). I definitely never thought I’d hear them cover Blind Guardian (“Valhalla”) replete with guest vocals from Hansi Kursch himself, no less! Some electro-ambiance (“Die Sturme Rufen Dich”) isn’t much of a stretch for these Melodeath dabblers, and I undoubtedly could’ve lived without the cringe-inducing, female-fronted bonus track (a cover of Killing Joke’s “European Super State”), but Veto’s finest moments are when the quintet simply revisit their melancholy-through-aggression roots (“Fallen,” “Hunters Will Be Hunted,” “53 Nations,” and “Beyond Redemption”). Few bands convey sadness via rage and desperation via strength so convincingly. Of course, with all these cuts standing out one way or the other, there’s bound to be some filler (“You Will Be Godless,” “Antagonized,” and “Like Gods Among Mortals” all slightly miss the mark), but overall, I believe the goal was an album that could, above all else, fare better against the test of time. Mission accomplished. I sense a return to absolute perfection is not far away.

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