A rifftacular thrashterpiece
While it may come as a surprise to some (as it did to me) Finish thrashers Maple Cross have been around since the mid-eighties. With two albums and a host of demos under their belts, Heimo marks the band's third full length release. While the album itself is not perfect (what record is when you really think about it?) it certainly dishes out some of the most original and inventive thrash sounds I've heard in quite awhile.
First and foremost, I think it would be unjust of me not to point out how chock full of absurdly killer riffs this album is. Just one listen to standout tracks like The Battle Of Joyhill Pt 2 - Last Straw, Subconscious Delusion Of Reality or Journey Of A Wolf and I guarantee you'll be thrashing around your living room like an idiot. In fact, I think many metal heads out there would have trouble sitting still for most (if not all) of what Heimo has to offer. Oh, and did I mention the riffs?
Interestingly enough, while the album's bread and butter is made from tracks with that really traditional, razor tinged 'galloping' thrash sound (in the vein of acts like Coroner and Slayer) there is a little bit of variety to be had on Heimo. Mid-paced tracks such as 24 Hours and Smell Of Fear possess a vibe that can occasionally be likened to a more stoner rock type sound (while still retaining a hearty thrash backbone) and are a welcome addition to the album, really giving it a nice sense of both balance and pace.
Perhaps the best thing about Heimo is that while parts of the album sound could certainly be compared to that of many other metal acts out there, Maple Cross manages to keep things sounding very fresh and unashamedly original. While originality may not be the be all and end all for some listeners out there, I think it really helps to solidify a band's identity - after all if Reign In Blood sounded exactly like Master Of Puppets would Slayer be as popular as they are today?
As a whole the band seem to have great chemistry and are remarkably good at what they do, though I must say I was occasionally bothered by some of Marco R.J.'s vocal lines (particularly on Train To Cape Stone and Seven Miles Of Hell). For the most part his vocals are stellar, but every so often he spits out a line that just doesn't seem to quite fit with the melody. It's not a big thing, but it's certainly noticeable.
Minor problems aside, Heimo is a fantastic thrash release and I wholeheartedly encourage thrashers and lovers of good metal alike to pick up a copy. So get out, get up and bang your head!