HEATHEN – Empire Of The Blind

HEATHEN - Empire Of The Blind
  • 8.8/10
    HEATHEN - Empire Of The Blind - 8.8/10


Nuclear Blast Records
Release date: September 18, 2020

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The Backstory

Bay Area thrashers Heathen released their first album Breaking the Silence in 1987. It was produced by rock legend Ronnie Montrose. As with most bands in the eighties, bad management got in the way of the band advancing forward in a timely fashion. Heathen did release their follow-up album Victims of Deception in 1991, but by then Grunge was just starting to take over.

After nearly 20 years, Heathen returned for The Evolution of Chaos in 2010. Fans ate the album up, but had to wait another 10 years for their latest release Empire of the Blind. Guitarist Kragen Lum began writing the album around 2012, but was sidelined when he and Heathen’s second guitarist Lee Altus were tapped as touring guitars for Exodus.

[Listen to our David White interview HERE]

The Album

“The Blight” hits the listener with Heavy Metal aggression and a dose of reality. Heathen is known for their strong takes on what’s going on in the world and Lum believes that the blight around us is from the blight inside us. “Empire of the Blind” is driven by the intense double-kick drums of Jim DeMaria. This one still paints a bleak picture of society. David White manages a nice mix of melody and intensity. “Dead and Gone” is pure twin guitar attack Thrash Metal. The harmonized chorus is one example of how Heathen separates themselves from their Bay Area peers.

On ”Sun in My Hand,” deep marching drum beats and guitar riffs set an ominous tone, but lyrically the song is about triumph. The gang vocal has an anthemic feel. Machine gun fire drums and rapid-fire riffs run frantically through “In Black.” “Shrine of Apathy” is as close to a ballad as you are going to get from Heathen with it’s clean guitars and soothing beat. “The Gods Divide” is a vivid look into how politics are turning us against each other.

The Verdict

Open your ears to the Empire of the Blind! Heathen remain just as intense and observant as they were on their previous albums. Lum paints a world of horror and despair with lights of hope shining through. What separates Heathen from other Bay Area Thrash bands is the vocal melody David White brings to the table. He is intense when needed, but can also sing with the best of them. Three instrumentals on a 12 track album seems a bit much.



  1. This Rotting Sphere
  2. The Blight
  3. Empire of the Blind
  4. Dead and Gone
  5. Sun in My Hand
  6. Blood to Be Let
  7. In Black
  8. Shrine of Apathy
  9. Devour
  10. A Fine Red Mist
  11. The Gods Divide
  12. Monument to Ruin

Heathen is:

Jim DeMaria – Drums
Lee Altus – Guitar
Jason Mirza – Bass
Kragen Lum – Guitar
David White – Vocals


  • George Dionne

    George was a contributor here at Metal Express Radio, reviewing albums and conducting interviews, out of Massachusetts, USA. George has contributed to numerous music related websites and blogs, and even managed his own from 2004-2009. George's first assignment was covering a live show by the mighty GWAR. By contrast his later assignments featured Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. George was also the front man for the South Eastern Massachusetts cover band Sound Tower from 2009-2015.  Sound Tower played 300+ shows across MA and had two original songs on the Cape Cod radio station PIXY 103. George enjoys a good whiskey, scotch, and/or bourbon and fights crime in his spare time.

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