By the time this CD came out I was heavily into Christian metal. I didn't even listen to this disc before I bought it. Rumor had it that Haven were a thrash band. Their record lable, R.E.X., was releasing some fine thrash at the time with bands like Believer and Sacrament. However it didn't take long to discover that Haven weren't thrash. Rather, Haven are pure, American power metal. Unfortunately this description brings thoughts of keyboard laced, dungeons and dragons metal. This is not the case either. Haven blend together a traditional metal sound along with some elements of speed and thrash metal to create a sound that is all their own. Vocalist Kevin Ayers has an exaggerated John Arc (Ex-Fates Warning) meets Warrel Dane (Nevermore/Sanctuary) style. He tends to use a lot of exaggerated vibrato when he sings which at times can be annoying, but generally seems to work well. "Your Dying Day" dominated my car stereo for months after purchasing it. Songs like "On Judgement Day" and "Below the Grave" are so infectious that a decade later the mere mention of the titles brings the chorus echoing through my head.
A bit of trivia about this band, when this album came out all their members except Kevin (who was 21 I think) were under 19.
There is also a remix version of "The Calling" on R.E.X.'s "Argh!!!" compilation.
1. "Tenacious Volition"
"Age of Darkness" is a bit more melodic, more technical and more mature than "Your Dying Day," but is still heavy, aggressive and very memorable. The acoustic ballad "Once Upon A Time" is really cool as the music is played backwards as Kevin sings over top (forwards of course). "Blood of the Lamb" pushes the thrash envelope but the majority of the music is just quality melodic power metal. As a whole, this album is probably my favorite of the three Haven albums.
Thunder Bucket Bonus
Tracks (On '05 Retroactive reissue)
Haven (independent) 1995
1. "Haven" (6:45)
After R.E.X. went under, Haven sort of disappeared for a while. A few years late I saw an ad for this disc in HM Magazine and decided to check it out. Kevin Ayers is the only original band member, although several familiar names like John Farrellbut as well as Andrew and Ed Bruner from the band's past are listed as musicians on the disc. Despite the four years between releases, the music has not changed dramatically. There are few more modern elements but overall this is another stellar power metal album. While the songs are all good to excellent the production is a bit weak. While the mastering isn't bad for an indie, the overall mix has the snare a bit to out front, which can become irritating after a while. As with past albums, however, the lyrics are awesome, although they are a bit more praise oriented rather than some of the more social lyrics of the past.
Haven - The Anthology Vol. 1 (M8) 2001
In 2001 M8 reissued the long out of print "Your Dying Day" which still today is one of my favorite power/speed metal CDs. However, as an added bonus M8 also included a bonus disc of demos and practice recordings of the band, intermixed with vocalist Kevin Ayers talking about each track. Interesting for long time fans, but not something that will probably ever get played again as the sound quality is horrible. It's to bad some of these tracks never made it onto any of the bands albums because they certainly could have been good songs if they had been recorded properly. It's also too bad the label didn't invest a bit of money into remastering "Your Dying Day" or put some funds into a higher quality insert. Most re-issues of classic discs have bios, photos, etc. This disc has none of those, but at least includes the lyrics, as did the original release. Despite all this, it's cool that this excellent power metal disc is back in circulation, at least for a while. M8 Records is now out of business and only 1500 copies of this CD were pressed. It's also interesting to note that the actual name of this CD is "The Anthology Vol. 1". I suppose Vol. 2, which was rumored to be coming out with either more demo material or the 1995 self titled CD and "Age of Darkness" will not see the light of day.