Oh Heaven Shall Burn…what an interesting band. They’re certainly not new to the great game of metal; they’ve been around for over ten years now. Yes, you read that right, ten years! If you’ve followed Heaven Shall Burn at all, you’ll know that their album quality over the years have…well, been anything but consistent. 2006’s Deaf to Our Prayers was fucking fantastic, while 2008’s Iconoclast was…extremely lacking, to say the least. So what side of the spectrum does Veto fall under?
Well…I’ll just say it; Veto is pretty mediocre. There are a number of problems I have with the album, with too few good things to say. Veto has a pretty hard time keeping up it’s own momentum, for example. The opening track “Godiva” is a downright scorcher – it actually gets you excited to hear the rest of the album. Unfortunately, the next two tracks absolutely sap any semblance of that momentum that the opener built up. These peaks and valleys continue on throughout the rest of your listening experience, the problem being that there are too many valleys and not enough peaks. Heaven Shall Burn should have taken some notes from fellow German metal musicians Caliban on how to make a strong, consistent album throughout; their 2012 album I am Nemesis is rock-solid. I can’t say the same for Veto, unfortunately. The track “Valhalla”, for example (which is actually a Blind Guardian cover) is fucking great – if there were more songs like this, I would absolutely be praising Heaven Shall Burn for making a killer album with great songs throughout. “Valhalla”, however, is followed up by “Antagonized” which in comparison is just downright boring. At least the vocals are good most of the time; he seriously hits some impressive high notes during a lot of Veto.
Actually, here’s an interesting point about the instruments: pick them apart individually and they’re actually quite decent, sometimes even good. I already mentioned the impressive vocals, which for me was the high point of the album. The guitars also offer some memorable moments – seriously, “53 Nations” has some kick-ass riffs in it. The drums are also quite good at times, featuring some impressive footwork (for a melo-death band, at least) and fills. The funny thing about all this, is that they almost never hit that point of “Holy shit, this is awesome” at the same time within a song. When they do it’s pretty damn great; just listen to the aforementioned “Godiva”, “Valhalla”, and “53 Nations” for examples of what this album could have been. Unfortunately, this just happens way too infrequently. Those moments seemingly only serve to put the rest of Veto in focus – a boring, ho-hum collection of songs with a few standouts.
The production on these songs is also pretty bad at times. It sounds like the album was done, and then someone decided to crank up the decibel level after the fact. What should have been a good sounding album, turns into one that at times actually hurts to listen to. I’m not kidding either; some of those high’s that the guitars hit just sound like screeches after while instead of actual guitars. The problem is exasperated when everything hits at once, such as during choruses for example. At one point, everything just sounds like one big pile of slop – it gets hard to pick out the details in individual instruments. It just makes for a rather unsatisfying listening experience, something that’s never good.
Heaven Shall Burn continues their uneven track record with Veto. Four songs save it from being a disaster, but 4/11 good songs does not make for a good album.