Heathen Deity - Official Website

True English Black Metal

United Kingdom Country of Origin: United Kingdom

1. The Gateway Opens
2. Burn In Satan’s Name
3. Condemned To Conception
4. True English Black Metal
5. The Flames Of The Gathering Darkness
6. The Black Goat Infernal
7. For The Nameless One - Shemhamforash
8. Beneath The Fires Of Albion
9. Gut The Church
10. For The Glory Of Satan
11. The Lord Of The Knell
12. The Shards Of Winter

Review by Felix on February 16, 2023.

England is well known for the quarrelled comedy group called The Windsors, bad foot and the once-oh-so-relevant NWOBHM. Fine, fine, but the guys from the island did never get a place in the first row when it comes to black metal. You say Cradle Of Filth? Okay, but I am talking about true black metal, not symphonic operettas with lyrics about dark desires. In a nutshell, I have missed “true English black metal” all the years. But now comes salvation.

Heathen Deity were formed in 1998 and so we cannot describe them as newcomers. Nevertheless, True English Black Metal is their first full-length. It’s a kind of double-debut in view of its length. More than 75 minutes material are a promising statement and a threat simultaneously. And lo and behold, already the intro appears to confirm the worst fears. 'The Gateway Opens' and that’s nice, but why the hell does it take more than three minutes? The intro fails to deliver even the shortest piece of music and so I was happy to welcome the first real track. 'Burn In Satan’s Name' makes you immediately forget the bland opening. It is not only the professional, pretty flawless production with the excellent sound of the snare drum and the clean yet aggressive guitars – it is, of course, much more relevant that the song justifies its bombastic length of nine minutes with great ease. Despite the programmatic (or should I say embarrassing?) album title, the band does not offer a kitschy opener that sounds like an explosion, just to show how evil the artists are. Instead, casual, more or less melodic guitar lines play a kind of prelude, before the rapid drumming and the throaty screams give the song another direction. Maybe the opulence of the song’s configuration can be understood as a reminiscence of Dany Filth’s flying circus, but the absence of keyboards speaks another language. Anyway, each and every tone of this track hits the bull’s eye and so it marks a fantastic start. Even the theatrical singing at the end is convincing.

The following tracks prove evidence that Heathen Deity are not caught in gigantic song patterns. Both 'Condemned To Conception' and the title track come directly to the point. Cold, mid-harsh black metal is on the agenda, which is upgraded by very cleverly arranged breaks. Without suffering from complexity, the songs spread dynamic vibrations in view of their different tempos. In addition, the title track impresses with some apocalyptic instrumental parts where the guitar work is simple, but it does not miss its effect. Okay, occasionally the guitars reveal a Candlemass inspiration, for example at the beginning of 'The Flames Of The Gathering Darkness', but that’s no big deal.

Generally speaking, the formidable flow of the songs reveals that they were conceived by mature professionals. 'The Black Goat Infernal' can confirm this statement and, even better, already its opening riff casts a spell upon the listener. The songwriting formula with its mix of mid-tempo and rapid sections works again excellently. The band demonstrates its talent for the integration of the right degree of melodies many times and this fact lends the album an inner strength. But as much as I regret it, the second half of True English Black Metal pours water into wine. The calm 'Beneath The Fires Of Albion' delivers an atmospheric, folkloric / medieval contrast to the other tracks. It can be understood as an experiment, but the “regular” tracks on the positions 7, 9 and 10 lack explosiveness and thrilling melody lines are somewhat less frequently than before. Fortunately, the dense 'The Lord Of The Knell' brings back the class of the first half and the good, opulently designed closer reflects the high potential of the band for the final time. Heathen Deity have not written a totally new chapter for the history of black metal, but these 75 minutes are promising and much better than some other things from England – just look at those I have mentioned in the beginning.

Rating: 7.8 out of 10