Heathen was one of several killer 80's thrash bands comprising the Bay Area thrash scene of the mid-to-late 80's, along with bands such as Exodus, Vio-lence, Death Angel, Vengeance Rising and Forbidden, among others. The band had numerous ties to other San Francisco bands -- James Sanguinetti (Mordred) was a founding member (later replaced by Doug Piercy of Anvil Chorus), Paul Baloff (Exodus) briefly replaced David Godfrey on vocals between albums, and Marc Biedermann (Blind Illusion) played bass on 'Victims of Deception.' Also, bassist Mike Jasteremski went on to play guitar with Griffin.

Breaking the Silence Heathen - Breaking the Silence/Pray for Death Demo (Century Media) 1987

1. "Death by Hanging" (5:04)
2. "Goblins Blade" (4:33)
3. "Open the Grave" (7:21)
4. "Pray for Death" (3:42)
5. "Set Me Free" (3:46)
6. "Breaking the Silence" (5:50)
7. "Worlds End" (7:05)
8. "Save the Skull" (5:20)
9. "Heathen" (6:33)
10. "Pray for Death" [demo] (5:23)
11. "Goblins Blade" [demo] (4:30)
12. "Open the Grave" [demo] (7:21)
13. "Heathen" [demo] (6:57)

1999 German re-release of this Bay Area Thrash classic. Heathen were one of the hopefuls of the second wave of thrash coming in the mid-80's. For some strange reason, however, they could not hold it together as a band. The music on this debut, however, is excellent, tight, speedy heavy metal. This album gained some airplay because of the Sweet cover "Set Me Free," which is odd because this song doesn't really represent the sound of the rest of the album. (This song was also covered by Saxon.) I'm sure it was a record company decision to release this particular song as a single. It is also interesting to note that this disc was produced by legendary guitarist Ronnie Montrose. The re-release contains the entire 'Pray for Death' EP, which unfortunately is not much different than the album tracks, save for the opening tracks organ intro. The re-release also includes a 12 page, full color booklet with a short bio, lyrics and tons of photos.

Through the Make Believe Heathen - Victims of Deception (Roadracer) 1991

1. "Hypnotized" (8:35)
2. "Opiate of the Masses" (7:50)
3. "Heathen's Song" (9:24)
4. "Kill the King" (3:35)
5. "Fear of the Unknown" (7:07)
6. "Prisoner of Fate" (6:20)
7. "Morbid Curiosity" (6:26)
8. "Guitarmony" [instrumental] (3:30)
9. "Mercy is No Virtue" (6:26)
10. "Timeless Cell of Prophecy" (5:20)

Excellent thrash metal that simply machine guns and tears holes in your ears from beginning to end. Strange thing about this, their second release, is that it came out almost five years after their first album was released on Combat Records. You would think that with that much time between releases, and a few members changing, that their sound would radically change. Fortunately it did not. "Victims of Deception" is a fine slab of California thrash metal. Lots of speedy riffs and double bass, yet retaining a sense of melody, not unlike the first two Forbidden discs. There are also plenty of those mosh rhythms that made thrash so enjoyable. Vocalist David-White Godfrey has a smooth voice, yet enough aggression to get the job done. "Kill the King" is a Rainbow cover that has been done by more bands than I can remember right now.

Recovered Heathen - Recovered (independent) 2004

1. "Death On Two Legs" (4:01)
2. "The Holy War" (5:03)
3. "In Memory Of..." (05:22)
4. "Hellbound" (3:50)
5. "Eye Of The Storm" (3:22)
6. "Hypnotized " (7:24)
7. "Opiate Of The Masses" (7:29)
8. "Timeless Cell" (5:08)
9. "Mercy Is No Virtue" (6:03)

"Recovered" isn't exactly a new album, as it isn't an album full of original and new Heathen songs. However, this album shreds from start to finish, and is one fine metal album. "Recovered" starts off with several excellent cover songs. "Death on Two Legs" is a Queen song that is very capably done. However, it is the next song that got me charged. "The Holy War" is a heavy Thin Lizzy cover that is worth the price of admission alone. The band sticks very close to the original on this cover. "In Memory Of..." is a kick butt original, that could easily have been a Dokken ballad. A ballad? Absolutely, and a well done ballad at that. Ahhhm, but from here on out we are treated to some of the finest speed metal. "Hellbound" is a headbanging tribute to the NWOBHM by way of the Tygers of Pan Tang. This song seriously is awesome and brings back the glory days of Heathen's thrashy sound, although at times I am reminded of Armored Saint's classic metal sound as well. "Eye of the Storm", a Sweet Savage cover, continues in the same mode. "Hypnotized" is seven minutes of brain melting, straight-up thrash metal. This, and the remaining three tracks are actually demo recordings for Victims of Deception album. "Eye of the Storm" is yet another speed metal romp that is features tons of smokin' lead guitar work. Likewise, the epic "Opiate for the Masses" recalls the glory days of the Bay Area thrash sound. "Timeless Call" rules! Of the Heathen originals on this CD, this is probably my favorite track. "Recovered" finishes off with a final thrasher titled "Mercy is no Virtue." The riffs here should send any longtime speed metal head into instant fits of headbanging. This is yet another track re-recorded from the out-of-print "Vicitms of Deception" CD. So, for an odds n' sods type of CD, this album as actually quite enjoybale and has helped to raise my hopes of great things to come from the reformed Heathen.

Evolution of Chaos Heathen - The Evolution of Chaos (Mascot Records) 2009

1.      Intro (1:21)
2.      Dying Season (5:41)
3.      Control by Chaos         (7:09)
4.      No Stone Unturned (11:10)
5.      Arrows of Agony (6:40)
6.      Fade Away (5:45)
7.      A Hero's Welcome (6:52)
8.      Undone (6:42)
9.      Bloodkult (4:31)
10.     Red Tears of Disgrace (5:52)
11.     Silent Nothingness (6:51)

Heathen's "The Evolution of Chaos" is the band's first full length album since "Victims of Deception" released in 1991. In 2004 the band did release an album that features some re-recorded classics and cover songs. However, "The Evolution of Chaos" is a collection of all new Heathen songs and is easily one of the best things they have ever recorded. The songs in general are all long, leaving plenty of room for extended instrumental sections that showcase the band's musicianship. "No Stone Unturned" is over eleven minutes long and features a killer mid-paced jam in the middle of the song. Guitarists Lee Altus and Kragen Lum use all the weapons in their arsenal, from thick riffs to shredding solos to melodic, sweeping acoustic passages. This is the stuff that great thrash metal records are made of.

After a Middle Eastern tinged intro, Heathen kicks into thrash mode with "Dying Season." The song recalls some of that Middle Eastern feel from the intro in parts. Probably one of the most unusual, eclectic songs is "A Hero's Welcome" which is a ballad of sorts. However, it's not some cheesy radio love ballad, this is a ballad in similar style as Metallica's "Fade to Black" or Testament's "Return to Serenity". The song, which is a dedication to the heroes that serve our country, is a somewhat dark song that ebbs and flows and has a spoken word dedication in the middle of the song. "Fade Away" is another standout track that gallops along with a killer groove and memorable riffs. For the most part Vocalist David White uses a gruff, speaking style of thrash vocals but he can also sing melodically at times, which adds a slight classic metal vibe to some of the songs.

I am usually one who prefer shorted albums and feel bands can benefit from including their 10 best songs and keeping it to under 60 minutes. At 70 minutes, "Evolution of Chaos" is a fairly long album, but it never gets boring. The variety of song tempos, emotions, riffs, etc. all add to the excitement of the album. Of course after nearly 20 years without a new release, I would expect no less. Heathen's "The Evolution of Chaos" offers over an hour of solid heavy metal and thrash complete with heavy riffs and memorable melodies that will keep you positively riveted for the duration.

Back to Index

man, Times, serif" size="3">Back to Index