I’m sneaking this review in barely hours before the release on September 16th as it slipped under our radar ever so slightly. When you get almost 500 albums a month thrown at you, these things happen… Wanderer is Heaven Shall Burn’s eighth studio album and comes with a host of guest appearances on both the regular and special editions.
The band bill themselves as hardcore / death metal though I’d chuck some “melo” in there and perhaps an edge of groove. They’re definitely death at their core, but more influences abound and keep the music fresh and interesting from track to track. The one thing that’s constant, though, is the heavy. This is a brutal album and a delight to listen to.
What strikes me most about Wanderer is the choice of subject matter and lyrics. There are some great references on here, some of which had me dipping into Wikipedia to discover more. “Passage of the Crane” is one, and stands out for its gentle opening which jars compared to the far more traditional metallic sounds elsewhere. When you discover that it’s about the death of a 12 year old girl who was affected by radiation from the Hiroshima bomb, it all makes sense. Read up on Sadako Sasaki if you need to.
“They Shall Pass” tells the story of a fascist uprising in London being quelled by locals of all faiths and beliefs in 1936 – I’m sure many older Brits will have heard of Oswald Mosley and his blackshirts. A song celebrating them getting kicked into touch is most welcome.
Subject matter aside, this is a wonderfully brutal album, but one that’s easily accessible with many catchy riffs throughout – hence my reference to “melo” previously. Under the crunching bass and rhythm guitars are strident clean notes which, in places, lilt and provide a melody which sticks in the ear canal for hours afterwards.
Having had a good few listens to the album, I can’t find a bad track on it. Some grow on you more than others – “Downshifter”, “Passage of the Crane” and “The Loss of Fury” amongst them – while others just hit you in the face from the first instance, such as the Corpsegrinder co-vocalled “Prey To God”. Wovenwar’s Nick Hipa makes an appearance on the track “Save Me”, while the band’s cover of My Dying Bride’s “The Cry of Mankind” has Aðalbjörn Tryggvason of Sólstafir guesting.
Unfortunately missing from our review copy – though present on all of the special edition releases – is their cover of Sodom’s “Agent Orange” which I’d love to hear. There is, in fact, a bonus CD in with some versions which included all of the band’s covers since they joined Century Media in 2003. I’d definitely say it’s worth springing for this!
Wanderer is a stunning release. Instantly listenable, it just gets better with each play through. The depth of the lyrics and subject matter only makes it that bit better. Highly recommended.
Wanderer is available to pre-order through Amazon on the following formats: