Heavenwood - Redemption

It took ten long years for Portugal’s Heavenwood to follow-up their highly successful second effort “Swallow”, released by German label Massacre Records precisely in 1998.
All sorts of setbacks have prevented the group from releasing new material, including an increasing line-up turmoil that ultimately lead to a lengthy period of inactivity and reduced them to a strong unit consisting of Ernesto Guerra on vocals, Ricardo Dias on vocals and lead guitar and Bruno Silva on rhythm guitar. Lesser acts could overcome such trials and hindrances, but Heavenwood not only managed to vanquish them, they have also written a strong record that sounds genuinely relevant in today’s music scene. Its long-strewn and forced gestation gave the band the opportunity to carefully labour over the songs and prepare a firm, mature and triumphant comeback since it’s perfectly audible that a lot of attention was paid to details and arrangements.
“Redemption” is a forward-looking and honest work that’s dynamically positioned somewhere between Gothic, Metal and Rock, it’s virtually impossible to say whether they’re predominantly one thing or another, though it has an unequivocally Metal edge. “Bridge To Neverland” is perhaps one of the fastest and heaviest themes penned by the group so far. Featuring Jeff Waters as guest musician on lead guitar it actually sees the band strangely moving thru a domain not too far removed from Annihilator, though the end result is surprisingly greater and irresistible.
On other occasions it bears some similarities with Paradise Lost circa “Draconian Times”, especially since guitarist Ricardo Dias has the same knack for crafting memorable and shimmering leads that Gregor Macintosh is renowned for. Songs like the immediately gripping “13th Moon”, “Fragile” and “Obsolete” all echo that trademark Macintosh sound and are album highlights and potential singles. The vocal delivery on these songs and a few others, spanning from a mournful growl of Ernesto Guerra to an emotional croon of Ricardo Dias is incredibly addictive and intense.
Elsewhere, “Me & You” sees Heavenwood delving comfortably into areas new to them, invocating memories of a depressive Maniac Street Preachers crossed with the bleakness of Katatonia. The Swedes presence can also be felt on “Foreclosure”, its dark mood and involving morose riffing showcase some similarities with Katatonia.
Produced by Daniel Cardoso and Heavenwood at Ultrasound studios and mixed by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street studios, “Redemption” is a grandiose work, more dynamic, guitar-driven and accessible than their previous album “Swallow”, though it never verges on an overly "commercial" or radio-friendly sound. Although the production work is very strong and limpid it shows a pristine quality that gives a dirtier edge to these songs.
With “Redemption”, Heavenwood have clearly jumped a few stairs up to accession, clearly recovering some of the lost ground and deserve the recognition that has long been escaping from them. Impressive!
(8/10)

Band info: www.myspace.com/heavenwood
Label info: www.myspace.com/recitalrecords

2 comments:

  1. For me the best album of the year for Portuguese bands!

    ReplyDelete