01. Awoken 02. Endzeit 03. Like A Thousand Suns 04. Murderers of the Murderers 05. Forlorn Skies 06. A Dying Ember 07. Joel 08. Quest for Resistance 09. Black Tears 10. The Bombs of My Saviours 11. Against All Lies 12. The Disease 13. Equinox 14. Atonement2008 Century Media Records
by Josh H.
Back in 2002 when Heaven Shall Burn released their defining album Whatever it May Take, the German quintet seemed poised to become one of the most promising bands riding the metalcore wave. Somewhere along the way however, the band fell into a creative black hole, most notably with 2004's Antigone, an album that rightfully garnered a rather lukewarm response from the metal community. Sadly, Heaven Shall Burn's fifth full-length Iconoclast is no different, delivering plenty of the patented death metal-meets-hardcore aggression the band is known for, but very little in the way of substance or stylistic evolution. From the get-go, it's perfectly apparent that Iconoclast is a metallic one trick pony. All the same worn out trappings of the band's last few albums are present and accounted for, from the quasi-political sloganeering so many German acts seem to be fond of to the chugging Bolt Thrower-isms that initially made them stand out from the pack. From the short, Antigone-esque piano-based intro track onward, Heaven Shall Burn appear perfectly content to shamelessly rehash and recycle elements from their previous recordings and even the extremely high level of intensity the band maintains throughout Iconoclast can't save it from wallowing in mediocrity. The main problem with Iconoclast is that it is nearly impossible to differentiate one song from the next. Sure, Heaven Shall Burn do attempt to break up their alternating Gothenburg-derived melodies and lumbering heaviness with the occasional, fleeting subdued moment or gentle synth flourish, but as whole the songs blend together to create one indistinguishable metalcore morass that makes it next to impossible to pinpoint standout tracks. Only "Black Tears," an Edge of Sanity cover, manages to provide any sort of respite from the constant monotony. It's clear the members of Heaven Shall Burn can handle their instruments ably, but their approach to composition lacks variation and progression, two very necesarry elements of compelling songwriting. This lack of deviation from the tried-and-true formula they perfected years ago, coupled with a running time of nearly an hour make Iconoclast an utterly exhausting listen. Bottom Line: Unfortunately, Iconoclast sees Heaven Shall Burn once again failing to live up to the promise of their early recordings. The band has become more known for ripping themselves off than for any of the ambitiousness or individuality they initially exhibited.