While listening to the first song, “Godiva,” I immediately noticed the audio, an insanely higher pitched quality than anyone would actually expect. The song itself is far from bad, in fact it packs a good deal of atmosphere into the music, especially the slower, emotional introduction that includes some keyboards for a short amount of time, and I think the only time they appear. It was catchy and had a good deal of aggression behind it that definitely catered more to the Melodic Death Metal side of the band thanks to the hooks and enthusiastic layered vocals. Despite banging my head along, the higher pitch just didn’t work out, causing the cymbals to basically mesh together with some washout, and give a bit of a tinny sound to the vocals one might expect from a low bitrate MP3 (which this promo wasn’t in any way formatted as). A slightly deeper tone would have worked out a lot better for that very reason, as well as for the benefit of the bass kicks. But, again, I still liked the song for what it was, and thankfully there wasn’t too much damage from what is either the production, or mastering of this recording.
Up next was “Land of the Upright Ones.” This one boasts a much richer, tighter performance, which caused a deeper tone (compared to “Godvia”) to come through, making the bass guitar more important. This one definitely showed the band’s Metalcore influence more, utilizing plenty of hooks in the chorus, but keeping things rather simplified in the main verses. It was still catchy and had my head banging along, even during the breakdown, but the parts that really grabbed my attention were the bass kick heavy sections, mostly because they wound up countering the pitch of the production quality.
“Die Sturm Rufen Dich” found the keyboards at play a little more than the last two tracks offered. Some parts of the song wound up sounding mechanical in an industry sense, not a repetitive or manufactured one. This was fine, giving it a little more substance, but again the audio quality wreaked havoc, removing what input from the keyboards exist, or making it seem like it’s there even though it isn’t. I’m actually still not sure which is which. The chorus is a bit simpler, finding shouting vocals against a really catchy, hook-driven performance, but I couldn’t really look past the cymbals. The sound they had thanks to the production, and how they seemed to be pulled to the forefront more than before actually started to piss me off after a while to the point where they started to give me a headache.
The more I listened to Veto, that aggrivation really did start to grow. It was incredibly hard to look past them, and that’s exactly what happened with “Fallen” the second it started. The aggressive verses sounded pretty intense, but the focus on cymbals really did distract the hell out of me. The chorus, however, laid off of them a bit, throwing the music into a simpler, catchier approach. The flow of the song was fantastic, and it began to kill me inside around the minute and a half mark that this song sounds so horrible from the technical angle, though clearly could have been the most impressive track offered on the side of the band’s performance, easily becoming a strong single. Sadly, much like “Godiva” and some of “Die Sturm Rufen Dick,” the audio ended up testing my patience, and causing my upper lip to curl up a bit out of awkward disgust, questioning how Heaven Shall Burn even thought for a second this sound would work in their favor.
I simply couoldn’t progress any further in Veto, and decided to put the album out of its misery for now. It’s obvious that the band’s performance kicks ass, and has the potential to be highly memorable. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, it just wound up an obnoxiously high pitched recording that simply sounds terrible. Rarely do I ever wish a band will go back and re-record, or at least reissue an album shortly after its release, but if Heaven Shall Burn were to pull a Nevermore, remastering this like they did with Enemies of Reality, it easily could be one of the better releases of 2013. Sadly, what we are presented with here sounds like garbage, not of the band’s fault, but rather somewhere in the technical aspect of the album. As it stands, I’m horribly let down by this release on pretty much every level to the point where my dedication to this band nearly has me in tears. All I can do is try to give it time, hope it grows on me, and, if not, just wait patiently for their next album and hope like hell they go with someone else instead of the invidual or individuals that butchered such a promising album.
And, by the way, “Valhalla” features Hansi KÃ¼rsch of Blind Guardian on guest vocals. This is also a cover of that very song they did for the album Follow the Blind. I found it odd that Heaven Shall Burn would cover this song, and I still do. But, given that this was originally by one of my favorite bands, and features one of my favorite vocalists of all time on it, and this version, I was still anxious to hear it. After a few tracks into the album, I’m scared to death to hear it now for fear of what the audio will do to it.
Digital review copy of this release provided by Century Media Records.