Heaven Shall Burn – VETO (Century Media Records)

Tuesday, 4th June 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

No real buzz around Heaven Shall Burn these days. It’s definitely not at 2004 levels, when metalcore of any variety was still relatively fresh and not an annoyance. The Germans were deemed by many to be the band to lead the charge; a more extreme and Scandinavian alternative to what was going down on this side of the pond. For numerous reasons, the band was never quite able to make the jump from mid-level status, and on VETO (their sixth album), it becomes readily apparently why. Heaven Shall Burn are now in the throes of a career-long creative holding pattern.

The metalcore sheen (or whatever you want to call it) has been contorted into a thrash foundation, with bouts of Gothenburg emerging as one of the album’s telling traits. There’s no lack of melodies, though, yet some of them come across as bland (see “Godiva,” “Fallen”), while others have more of an impact, like “Hunters Will Be Hunted,” a song that would be a Killswitch Engage number if clean vocals were implanted. There’s not any of that happening here, save for the cover of Blind Guardian’s “Valhalla,” where Mr. Hansi Kusch himself makes a guest appearance. Wonder what he was thinking… “At least a mid-level German metalcore band is hacking up our song instead of another power metal band.”

Heaven Shall Burn are certainly more interesting than Neaera and heavier than Caliban, so consider that something for the band to hinge upon as they descend into the second-half of their career. VETO isn’t all that interesting, frankly, yet there’s a degree of quality here, even though it’s about as safe of an album you’ll find.

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