Iconoclast (Part 1: The Final Resistance) by Heaven Shall Burn
Release date : January 2008
Reviewed by Mark Fisher
Originally formed under the title Consense in 1996's autumn, Saalfeld, Germany's Heaven Shall Burn adopted their current moniker (after the 1996 Marduk album Heaven Shall Burn... When We Are Gathered) in 1997. Marcus Bischoff supplies vocals, Eric Bischoff occupies bass, Maik Weichert strums guitar, and Matthias Voigt is behind the drumkit. Inaugural EP In Battle There Is No Law came in the fall of 1998 via Deeds of Revolution Records, and a split vinyl release with Fall of Serenity arrived in the autumn of 1999. Featuring an interpretation of Bolt Thrower's “The IVth Crusade” (renamed “The Fourth Crusade”), debut full length Asunder came in April 2000 through Impression / Lifeforce Records. The split EP Caliban vs. Heaven Shall Burn (under Lifeforce Records' The Split Program) came in the summer of that year, alongside Heaven Shall Burn's first lengthy European tour.
Sophomore album Whatever It May Take came in November 2002, while live jaunts to South America and the United Kingdom came the same year, not to mention an Icelandic visit which was followed up by another in 2003. Other trips saw the group trek to the likes of Denmark, Norway and Greece, alongside appearances at German festivals such as Party-San, With Full Force, Westfalen Festival, Wacken Open Air and Summer Breeze, and the Belgian festivals Leper Fest and Goodlife Festival. Heaven Shall Burn signed to Century Media Records in January 2004, and third full length Antigone (whose name was inspired by the Sophocles play) witnessed distribution in June. Production was handled by Patrick W. Engel, whereas mixing and mastering duties were performed by Tue Madsen at Antfarm studios, Denmark. In the fall of 2005, the outfit participated in the Hell On Earth tour with As I Lay Dying and Evergreen Terrace. Guitarist Patrick Schleitzer left prior to the tour, and Alexander Dietz replaced, having already performed guest vocals on some Heaven Shall Burn tracks previously. In June 2006, fourth album Deaf to Our Prayers followed. The album title took influence from a line in a poem by Heinrich Heine, and that poem dealt with the situation of industrial workers from Silesia in the nineteenth century. Recorded at Rape Of Harmonies Studios in Thüringen, Germany, the album was mixed by renowned producer Jacob Hansen (Mercenary, Raunchy) in Ribe, Denmark. In their native country, the album charted at number sixty-five. Touring alongside Caliban in December, Heaven Shall Burn played the Rock Hard Festival and the Wacken Open Air festival in 2007.
For Heaven Shall Burn, materialising as a household name amongst Metal audiences is almost imminent. When a group is afforded the opportunity to develop, this is a prime example of what benefits can be reaped. Three stirring, critically acclaimed full lengths already strengthen their CV, and so Heaven Shall Burn, their management, and label Century Media finally arrive at their collective destination in the wake of Iconoclast (Part 1: The Final Resistance). Heaven Shall Burn’s defining moment, it'll be unquestionably most difficult to surpass this in future outings. Once again the album was cut at Rape of Harmony Studios, whereas mixing duties were held at Antfarm studios in Denmark with Tue Madsen. Meanwhile, the album's front cover artwork was handled by Bastian Sobtzick.
Heaven Shall Burn's fifth full length documents the tale of Iconoclasts, a race whose sole mission is to administer judgment and vengeance upon the murderers of God. As the myth gradually unravels, the fable behind God's death is unveiled. The penned lyrics undertake numerous topics, including atrocities associated with the Holocaust, not to mention the general feeling towards the disabled, war, racism, and veganism. Beyond reaping vengeance on these death-bringers, Iconoclasts hold no purpose. Bonus CD ROM content cohesively unites the album's themes in a beautiful manner, sporting powerful artwork to illustrate each track, and reveals the chapter of the tale which that track details. You can beneficially wield the most awe-inspiring theme which the globe can volunteer. Devoid of great material though, you cannot summon it into worthwhile existence. In this instance, Iconoclast carves an even greater indentation. Heaven Shall Burn smoothly surpasses previous achievements, and richly excels across the musical board (unlike Antigone, which only excels in places).
From the very inaugural note, “Endzeit” hammers the floodgates broadly open. Solely offering barbarity, Iconoclast tenders apologies for nothing. “Forlorn Skies”'s grinding Metal bounce possesses grooves; the beat thumps along under the notion that the Apocalypse is ultimately imminent, and this composition forms its actual anthem. One specific emotion isn't to be found within the songs, and that emotion is hope. All that can be discovered is mayhem, and the likes of which are rarely heard these days. When each track has been granted an inaugural airing, it's “The Bombs of My Saviors” which can be solely identified as the track that holds the distinction of being the album’s defining moment. The track incorporates musically diverse elements, yet still remains heavy. Unrelenting, an overtly social consciousness underpins the number. “The Bombs of My Saviors” exemplifies the sound which Heaven Shall Burn employ, and that sound is a chaotic blend of the following artists; Earth Crisis, In Flames, and Judas Priest. When the album's tale is taken into account, there's much to immerse oneself in. If one wishes to casually listen to Iconoclast to merely discover great Metal music though, then the full length achieves this goal too. In contrast to the usual glut of albums this heavy though, Iconoclast's tale has been smartly mapped out, and exhibits abundant intelligence. Robbed of their musical backdrop, the lyrical poetry and the storyline's unnerving themes would still remain defiantly tall. A magnificiently brilliant record, let's hope Iconoclast garners the recognition it sorely deserves.