From their explosive live performances and previous Dead Man’s Waltz EP, UK metallers Heaven Asunder has bred a very healthy anticipation for their debut album Among The Damned. Now with its unleashing the ten track blaze of melodic passionate metal gives potent evidence as to why there has been such an awaiting appetite. The release may be does not set new markers to fully challenge originality but impressively accomplished and rigorously engaging, the album is soaked in a captivating promise and invigorating strength which marks out the Bristol band as a proposition to eagerly indulge in.
Formed in 2009 by five guys at University sharing the same flat, the quintet of vocalist Matt Boyd, guitarists Lewis Blake and Ally Roberts, bassist Lewys Ball, and drummer James Whitlock took little time in creating a live presence which seeded the reputation firing up the hunger for their album. Heaven Asunder has ignited stages alongside the likes of 36 Crazyfists, Idiom, Fearless Vampire Killers, When We Were Wolves, Odessa, Shining (Nor), The Smoking Hearts, The Dead Lay Waiting, Crown the Empire, and Issues since forming whilst Dead Man’s Waltz only added to their brewing stature. Thoroughly enjoyable and a powerfully satisfying encounter, Among The Damned expands the rising presence of the band whilst paving the way for stronger expectations of major things ahead from the band.
The album hits hard right away with opening track Shallow Graves and though in hindsight the song is not the most grabbing and gripping on the release it sets things off with hunger and energy. Immediately riffs are greedily stroking the ears whilst the rhythms of Whitlock slap the same from pillar to post. With a great melodically seeded breath wrapping the senses after the aggressive start to allow things to settle, the track is soon back to a keen rampage, the guitars casting well-crafted and alluring sonic patterns which entice and tease whilst the bass of Ball prowls within their bait with menace and depth. The vocals of Boyd backed ably by Roberts are equally as appealing as the sounds and though there is better to come from the release the track is a formidable and appealing blaze of melodic metal.
Of Coat And Arms keeps up the momentum and potency of the start, the initial melodic coaxing similar to its predecessor but soon expanding with greater growl to the riffs and expressive adventure to vocals and melodies. Admittedly there is little strikingly new going on but there are no doubts about the imagination and skill employed in the use of the previously trodden spicery as the song wraps the listener in something richly appetising and thoroughly accomplished. This is right away built upon by the thumping presence of the excellent Nothing More, the track the most carnivorous and belligerent on the album yet again bringing an impressive and perfectly sculpted merger of violent passion and intent with equally powerful melodic and inventive exploration. Keys add another texture and evocative persuasion to the absorbing encounter whilst the bass, as all aspects, digs into a deeper corner of enticement to help forge the first major pinnacle of the album. The accompanying promo to the release mentions 36 Crazyfists as a reference, and it is hard to disagreed, but to that you can add the better moments of Avenged Sevenfold and the power of Killswitch Engage as well as other essences, all brought into a wholly enjoyable and exciting proposition.
The likes of the fiery Reviver, a track which flares up and bites at various moments within another pleasing provocative meeting between band and thoughts, and the confrontational Another Broken Soul ensure the album continues to ignite the senses even if both fall slightly before the height set by Nothing More. That plateau is soon seriously challenged though by the next up The Silencer, the track a bruising and challenging treat soaked in rhythmic rabidity and vocal spite whilst driven hard by predacious enterprise and voracious guitar creativity. Its successor, the ravenous Last Rites, is no slouch in seizing and tossing around the senses and passions either. With nagging riffs and a great mixed vocal attack from Boyd laying down irresistible temptation from within the emerging dramatic and merciless aggression, the song is another commanding peak of the album.
Both Lest We Be Scattered and Stranded provide an appealing closing stretch to Among The Damned, even if neither quite lives up to the previous duo. Despite that it is impossible to pull yourself away from their strong suasions before they make way for the outstanding conclusion to the release, State Of Things To Come. Sinews ripple viciously across the enthralling provocation whilst riffs and hooks saunter and prey upon the senses with rapacious intent and imagination. It is a stirring intensive end to an equally blistering and exhaustive release. Among The Damned is a great full introduction to a band you can only see going from strength to strength. The album does not carve out new adventures but certainly provides a tempestuous and thrilling storm of enjoyment to make Heaven Asunder a band to embrace fully in 2014.
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