What a shame that so many bands which made one or two awesome records that have become immortal classics suddenly vanish without having had the chance to enjoy their well deserved success. One of these bands is HEATHEN, hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area. On their first record, “Breaking The Silence”, these guys performed Speed Metal par excellence, and the follow up “Victims Of Deception” even outshines the debut in terms of velocity.
Rightly so, because this album is a milestone in Metal history, and unfortunately it has remained the last offspring of HEATHEN up to this day. “Recovered”, which was released last year, contains 4 cover songs, one new track and the “Opiate Of The Masses” demo, and is not really what you would call a regular album. Anyway, the eight hymns on “Victims Of Deception”, plus the “Kill The King” cover (how come there are so many covers of this song anyway?) and the amazing instrumental “Guitarmony” still kick ass nowadays, and the powerful guitar sound keeps up its irresistible force. HEATHEN really deliver top notch Speed Metal and do so from the very beginning.
After the intro to the opener „Hypnotized“ you get knocked off your feet by a lethal guitar riff attack, such is the impact of the sheer Metal power fired in your direction. This mighty connection of neck breaking riffs with finger breaking solos, based on very tight drumming and backed up by glorious double bass fire, continues during “Opiate Of The Masses”, before they slow it down a bit on “Heathen’s Song”. This track is not really a new one, but a revised version of the song “Heathen” from the debut album. And indeed you can mark an audible improvement, the track is even more powerful (although the four year older original kicks ass, too). With “Fear Of The Unknown” the Speed Metal journey continues before we get a moment to take a breath with the mid-tempo paced “Prisoners Of Fate”. The structure of this song reminds me of METALLICA’s “One” – it starts slow and gets faster and faster. Really an awesome track! “Morbid Curiosity” won’t spare neither the muscles of your neck nor the strings of your air guitar. You can’t help but headbanging to this song. “Mercy Is No Virtue” follows the same principle, total Speed Metal riffing mayhem. Great! The final “Timeless Cell Of Prophecy” does not mark an exception on this record, but rather makes sure that this masterpiece ends up with a final outburst of power.
HEATHEN really set new standards in the Speed Metal genre with this record, and many who tried to come up to it failed. It’s a pity that these guys didn’t get the success they deserved, and that way too few Metalheads know this great album. Guys, get this record and bang your head until it drops. This is Speed Metal the way it’s meant to be! (Online February 25, 2006)