Heavenwood – Abyss Masterpiece

Heavenwood’s musical growth has always been gradual and consistent, even “Redemption” their comeback album following an eight-year hiatus continued just where they last left off. So when the Portuguese act first announced they’d be working with Russian classical composer Dominic Joutsen on their fourth album, I’ve foreseen that major changes were afoot and feared that Heavenwood would pull a Therion’s “Theli” on us.
However, initial listens reveal that “Abyss Masterpiece” isn’t such a radical departure from previous works after all. Even though this new album bends slightly towards more symphonic and orchestral ambiences, the Portuguese act retained much of the essence that has made great in the past, still revealing their remarkable ability to pen gigantic goth-doom anthems that will be repeatedly hummed in the next few days.
Surprisingly, “Abyss Masterpiece” features some of the heaviest songs Heavenwood have written since their humble days as Disgorge, opener “The Arcadia Order” for instance pummels forth with a malevolent and fiery intent that reminds me of Dimmu Borgir. Not that Heavenwood bear much resemblance to the Norwegians, there’s none of that theatrical pomp to be found here, but this first song definitely exudes a similar symphonic grandeur.
From there onwards, the song-writing follows a more recognisable trail with Heavenwood favouring equally soaring and bleak melodies, superbly tempered with orchestral flourishes.
The melancholic “Once a Burden” is a perfect illustration of the charming balance struck between the trio’s craft with the class and elegance of Joutsen’s arrangements, a gentle, contemplative theme enhanced by the engaging sounds of classical instruments such as violins. Following track “Winter Slave”, my personal favourite at the moment, has one of those memorable guitar melodies that you’ll be humming for the rest of the day, along with a highly contagious chorus where Ernesto Guerra’s raw-throated bellows are perfectly counterbalanced by Ricardo Dias’ powerful clean singing.
Simply put, “Abyss Masterpiece” is a great and solid effort from a band that seems to mature gradually and confidently with each release. (8/10)

David Alexandre

Label info: www.listenable.net
For fans of: Moonspell, Draconian, October Tide