The metal titans from the American Northwest, Saint have returned with a devastating new album. Their latest release entitled “Heaven Fell” is undoubtedly one of the most important albums Saint has ever released. Yeah, I did say important.
Musically this album is perhaps the most mature and complex with luscious arrangements with depth and strength. As much as I love the classics “Times End” and “Too Late for Living” this album might possibly have bested them. The double edge guitar attack of veteran players Jerry Johnson and the dynamic arrangements of Matt Smith show an unbelievable ability to combine parts and play off each other.
The depths and arrangements that Smith and Johnson create deliver an atmosphere which provides an epic feel and power that reeks throughout this release. It’s amazing, and frankly not something I’ve noticed to this extent on any prior Saint album. Not to overlook the contributions from band founder Richard Lynch and drummer Jared Knowland they play a more refined rhythm section this time through. Refined in complexity without sacrificing any of the power and dynamics, Knowland brings a different feel this time out.
Knowland’s production prowess cannot be overstated here. He’s done a phenomenal job, dynamics and tones while catching brilliant performances throughout (and his unique ability to hear things and arrange them uniquely). It delivers and adds sounds to the tapestry which is the Saint sound. After all you can only recreate the vibe of ‘Time’s End’ so many times, its 2022 not 1986 and while I dig all those early albums I’m glad Heaven Fell isn’t a rehash of what’s come before.
Richard Lynch by his own admission has stated he didn’t have to write the bulk of the material as he has done on prior releases. This one thing has allowed Saint to develop into a stronger powerhouse than it was before. Don’t be misled, Lynch wrote or contributed on four of the eleven tracks presented, and apparently Rich was most enthusiastic about not having to write the bulk of the stuff.
So does the music sound like Saint? Absolutely!! If anything it’s gotten even a bit heavier in spots, album opener the bullet train ‘Hollier than Thou’ or the mid paced grinder ‘Fallen Armor’ as two examples just bang with the best of them. All of the tracks on this release lean in a heavier direction. Where on the prior release “The Calf” there were a couple of more melodic and slightly “commercial” type tracks such as “Stormy Night” there isn’t really anything like that on “Heaven Fell”.
Not every song here is like “The Exile of Cain” which just pile drives along as you scream for breath. However a song like “Dance of the Gods” or the memorable title track deliver on the hook without sacrificing anything in the way of heaviness. Good ole fashion HEAVY METAL that gets your fist pumping and headbanging… Perhaps somewhere between “Balls to the Wall” by Accept, “Hall of the Mountain King” by Savatage and “The Sentinel” by Judas Priest. Get it ?
Now I would be remiss if I failed to mention the vocals of David Nelson. He is a BEAST!!! Powerful, dynamic, gravelly, and fits PERFECTLY! Not unlike John Bush, capish? He wrote the majority of the lyrics and demands that the listener THINK and engage. Some things seem to be more direct than others but the reality is that he isn’t spoon feeding the listener which as a grown man I greatly appreciate.
Honestly as I listened to the lyrics and read them I wondered if this was an indictment against the American Church. After all the cover shows a church tower upside down, as in fell down. Probably not but with such rich imagery and depth of content. Clearly this isn’t a rehash of the book of Revelation, a Christian metal cliche that has been done to death. ‘Dance of the Gods’ is just crushing in this regard.
I’ve played this album more than any other this year. Perhaps the best of 2022. Saint ‘ Heaven Fell’ is a banger and really has me looking forward to what is next for the Saint camp. You better get it while it’s hot!!