When you think of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, you may drift to thoughts of gently plucked banjos, Bluegrass/Country odes to rolling green hills and a simpler way of life. But the area’s Heavens Die is the antithesis of that bucolic impression.
The Doomcore quintet features all of the genre’s most recognizable elements — demonic vocals that are barked or growled, machine-gunned drum patterns and galloping guitars played with the speed and intensity of a tweaker after a heart-needle injection of adrenaline and a double espresso. And it’s all in service of songs that plumb the depths of spiritual and emotional despair and doubt.
Heavens Die formed three years ago and quickly recorded and released its self-titled demo, a frenetic and pummeling five-track introduction to the band’s pit-of-hell perspective. Since then, the band has issued a pair of EPs — 2016’s The Hands of Man and the just-released Unnoticed and Unmissed. The new EP finds guitarist Sam DeBurgh taking over for founding member Adam Meadors, who apparently left to concentrate on other musical projects and his comic book illustration career.
As the name suggests, Heavens Die embraces a lyrical mindset that incorporates spiritual and secular themes, a viewpoint that is evident on the conceptually threaded Unnoticed and Unmissed. Singer Danny Prock has noted in interviews that he has imagined a God that is as malicious and sinister as humanity at its very worst with the intent of challenging people to examine their notions about their various higher powers. For his part, guitarist Nathan Rinard has matched that brutal outlook with an appropriately visceral and penetrating yet somehow still nuanced soundtrack of howling riffs and reflective piano parts, reinforcing Prock’s vocal presentation, which swings between shrieks, growls and quiet spoken-word passages.
With potent nods to Death Metal, Punk, Hardcore and Doom weaved into a tight sonic fabric, Heavens Die asks powerful questions about the nature of faith and humanity at a volume that can be heard at the gates of either eternal destination.