Review Summary: All fall.
The title for this album is applicable for fans of Heaven Shall Burn, mainly because of the obvious question that it asks: Where do they go from here.
At the time of Wanderer
’s 2016 release, Heaven Shall Burn had been a band for twenty years. They have released a number of notable releases throughout their long career together – 2004’s Antigone
, first and foremost, but also 2002’s Whatever It May Take
, and 2013’s Veto
What made these albums so good was not to be found in any innovation or progression in the band’s core sound: Marcus Bischoff’s demonic, layered vocals; a twin-pounding, relentless guitar attack from Maik Weichert and Patrick Schleitzer (or Alexander Dietz, who replaced Schleitzer after 2005); and the thunderous drums from Matthias Voigt (now replaced by Christian Bass, following Veto
These albums were so good because the songwriting therein was strong and inspired. In layman’s terms, these releases had some killer songs that drove and pushed these albums forward with purpose and distinction. The weaker spots in Heaven Shall Burn’s discography, in direct contrast, are all marked by containing weak songs and weak album directions, overall, though their core sound has more or less stayed the same throughout for just about every release.
is their weakest album by far, even with the addition of a number of guest musicians in the mix: George Fisher of Cannibal Corpse’s fame provides vocals on “Prey to God”; Adalbjorn Tryggavanson of Solstafir provides vocals on “The Cry of Mankind,” a My Dying Bride cover that closes out the album; Nick Hipa of Wovenwar fame provides a guitar solo on single “Corium”; and Frank Blackfire plays guitar on “Agent Orange”, a Sodom cover.
Unfortunately, none of the guest musicians provide any highlights in the typical Heaven Shall Burn sonic stew. The only songs that reside with listeners are “Bring the War Home”, the second track -- which follows an ill-placed, boring opener to the album in “The Lost of Fury” -- and “Down Shifter”, which recalls Antigone
’s momentous closer, “The Dream is Dead”, with its opening synth effects, though the prior is still nowhere near as strong as the latter.
The rest are by the numbers Heaven Shall Burn that play homage to the worst of the Iconoclast
trilogy and even the dull middle of 2006’s Deaf to our Prayers
in both of their collectives' stagnation and mediocrity. Wanderer
is just Heaven Shall Burn songs with the core sound still intact, but with poor songwriting all of the way through.
was such a strong and powerful release because the songs therein were of such high quality. With that release, Heaven Shall Burn had kept their identity as a band intact, sonic structure-wise, but the inspiration and power found in the songwriting made that album so strong as a whole. Veto
proved that the band could still make killer albums, while still not having evolved their signature sound in over a decade.
is the direct counterpart to Veto
, in the most negative of ways. The songs are not strong, and the band sounds bored. They didn’t go into the studio, nor did they release Wanderer
, with that intention, of course, but that is what we have here, more or less: exhaustion, in auditory form. Much needs to be done on the next release, or this band might as well be done for and gone. Which is sad, because few metalcore bands can hit as hard as they have in the past.
Until then, we wait.