Heaven Shall Burn – Invictus (Iconoclast III)
I was surprised to learn that HEAVEN SHALL BURN has been around for 14 years and are on their sixth album, Invictus (Iconoclast III).
For a German band, they sound distinctly Scandinavian. Their Gothenburg-influenced sound reminds me of a heavier IN FLAMES or a keyboard-less DARK TRANQUILLITY. HEAVEN SHALL BURN are aggressive, but they aren’t afraid to add violin and piano interludes, touches of black metal or some electronica zest (“Combat”) to spice things up.
Marcus Bischoff’s high-pitched bark gives the band its distinct flavor. It and the band’s melodic riffing make for a well-blended mix of death metal and hardcore. Dig into HEAVEN SHALL BURN’s well-crafted lyrics and you’ll find political injustice, war and their own German history atrocities. The band continues their musical style on Part 3 of the Iconclast trilogy, done in the typical HEAVEN SHALL BURN way.
Like previous HEAVEN SHALL BURN albums, a piano and strings arrangement opens Invictus. Bischoff’s harsh scream of “The time has come for you!” commences as “The Omen” begins. The band is fully locked into their groove, and their trademark brashness is displayed with power. More piano interludes conclude “Buried In Forgotten Grounds,” with something that almost sounded like it could be a guitar solo. The funk/jazz hi-hat polyrythym beats on “The Lie You Bleed For” is another element that HEAVEN SHALL BURN weren’t afraid to experiment with. Fellow German guest vocalist Sabine Weniger of DEADLOCK gives her best on “Given In Death.” The contrast between her clean vocals and Bischoff’s rasp works for the most part, and is a pretty bold move to attempt a song like this.
The band is again produced by Tue Madsen. By now, he knows exactly what HEAVEN SHALL BURN is looking for. The guitar and vocals are mixed the loudest, and are upfront on every song. The drumming of Matthias Voigt is phenomenal, his nonstop pummeling of fills and rhythms is solid. HEAVEN SHALL BURN has always been praised for their lyrical approach, and on Invictus, they tackle some heavy subjects in history.
There’s just not enough variation or melody to Bischoff’s vocals, and they get monotonous after a few songs. I realize this is HEAVEN SHALL BURN’s style, but a little change in the pitch would differentiate the songs better. Also, there aren’t many guitar solos or leads, thus having to rely on the riffs, which are pretty heavy and interesting about 60 percent of the time. They are just too basic and not memorable enough.
HEAVEN SHALL BURN’s forte is playing sharp and aggressive songs, and what they do on Invictus is their bread and butter. They haven’t really changed their style from album to album, but they’ve gotten more precise. Die-hard HEAVEN SHALL BURN fans should enjoy Invictus.
By Kelley Simms