It takes precisely one second of the second track to have you plastered against the back wall of your room having mistakenly upped the volume on the intro track just in time for Heaven Shall Burn’s (henceforth named HSB) crisply produced rhythm section to unleash a barrage of noise that is not unlike Lamb Of God’s finest moments. Equally Marcus Bischoff’s vocals are pure metal fury, raw screams wrenched from the dark recesses of his soul and poured into the song with real malice, yet with a hint of melody on the chorus which recalls the early In Flames albums and lends a depth to the songs that makes them memorable as well as heavy as a really heavy thing (sorry Devin!)
If track two was a surprise you may think that you’re ready for ‘combat’ but you’d be wrong as it kicks in even harder and faster than its predecessor and then introduces sub-techno keyboard elements which somehow work despite their seeming incongruity in this setting. Almost industrial in the way it pounds at you, with Matthias Voigt turning in a sterling performance on drums, ‘combat’ simmers with an intensity drawn from its difficult subject of child soldiers. ‘I was, I am, I will be’ is a thrash gem with harmonised guitars giving way to a barrage of Marcus’ screams and furious drum work. Melodic, yet furious it’s a stand-out track from a belligerent album that maintains its laser-sharp focus right till the last hate-filled note rings out. ‘Buried in forgotten grounds’ opens with a scream so bloody you can imagine Marcus tearing chunks of his throat out while his band rage away behind him.
HSB are, without doubt, a world-class metal band. While it’s easy to write about Marcus because he is the focal point of the band and his extreme vocals dominate much of the proceedings, he also has a top notch band to work with; guitarists Maik Weichert and
Alexander Dietz are powerhouses in their own right, throwing all manner of tasty flourishes which give the songs the depth they need while never overshadowing the rest of the band. Equally Eric Bischoff brings a powerful bottom end to the whole thing and you can imagine that the band have rehearsed every track into the ground so tight is their performance. Just check out the synth-enhanced ‘the lie you bleed for’ (another favourite track) that is worthy of the mighty Pantera themselves, but with a wealth of touches that really make the band stand out from the pack, or ‘Given in death’ which employs a female vocalist to great effect without making it sound like the band have compromised and created a song for the tedious ‘metal-core’ set.
This is a fantastic album; the result of hard work and song-writing nous and it should, if there is any justice, propel HSB into the big time. A more-than-capable band who bring some nice touches to the frantic sound of In Flames and Lamb of God and truly make it their own. Invictus is an album that is unrelenting from start to finish and Century Media, who know they’re onto a good thing when they hear it, have once again produced an array of special editions to sate the fans with offering the choice of CD or digital download (booooorrrrring!!!) or a rather swish CD + DVD box (a nice, chunky edition to your CD racks) with the DVD offering a live show recorded in Vienna and a limited LP and CD which we haven’t actually seen, but if it is up to the standards of the High on fire and Paradise Lost sets then you’re in for a real treat. Whichever way you choose to go this is an awesomely brutal album with enough melodic flourishes to keep it stuck in your head for days. Excellent.