While Heaven Below is new to me, they have been around since 2007. The short story goes like many a band biography. Formed in late 2007 by guitarist and vocalist Patrick Kennison (Union Underground) and bass player Marty O'Brien (Disturbed, We Are the Fallen), the band went through numerous personnel changes, yet still released two albums. Heaven Below arrives with their latest and third album Good Morning Apocalypse, a concept album for Dave Ellefson's EMP Label Group and featuring some high profile guests. These include Lita Ford, Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys, Broken Teeth), Udo Dirkschneider, Kobra Paige (Kobra and the Lotus), and several other minor players.
Jumping in, as for the concept or story, I have no clue. Press material was vague, yet did mention some characters. Searching the Internet, high and low, proved a waste of time. Neither did I have the lyrics or CD booklet, which could have supplied some elusive information.
(I thought about making something up, like "somewhere in the not to distance future, an American heavy metal band seeks the cure for their excessive compulsive masturbation disorder which occurs more frequently when viewing pictures of Lita Ford at 58 years old in a tight leather jump suit. But, alas, failure is imminent as they jerk themselves off unto death." But I don't think Heaven Below would get the sarcasm and satire. But I thought it humorous.)
So on to the music then. Heaven Below could best be described as hard rock heavy metal with a bit of a modern twist. From the essentials of melody, harmony, and groove, it's evident that they reach back to classic hard rock and metal for inspiration. The modern spin Heaven Below drops in slightly more coarse, sometimes screamo, vocals and then harsher raw riffage.
To the former, the vocal arrangements can be curious. Large and dense within Nightfall Comes To Life. Or have the edge taken off with the female accompaniment within Devilina And The Damage Done (Kobra Paige) and Running Under Satan's Hand with Lita Ford. Another surprise comes with the operatic soprano voice of Mary Whitman within Among The Wolves/Worldwide Suicide. Otherwise, Patrick Kennison can be quite raging as within that song or Killing The Deadman, for example. Most times he just sounds angry as within Death Battalion.
To the guitar parts, they develop from a twin guitar foundation, again something common to traditional heavy metal. While the twin guitar harmony emerges throughout, the riffage easily steals a page from thrash metal and its blistering fury. Nevertheless, from the brazen riffs flow an abundance of fiery guitar solos, also common to the classic metal form, not necessarily so for some modern acts. Not dismissing the rhythm section (which is very booming), by any means, but Good Morning Apocalypse is a very guitar forward across the board.
Now you're probably wondering, with all those words, did I like the album? Yeah. Overall. For the most part. The vocals were a bit too raging for me, but for modern heavy metal well-founded in traditional metal, Heaven Below's Good Morning Apocalypse is likely one of the best albums you'll hear this year. (The art work is very classy.)
While the vocals were a bit too raging for me, but for modern heavy metal well-founded in traditional metal, Heaven Below's Good Morning Apocalypse is the real deal, a fine accomplishment for the band.
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