Heaven’s Cry, a prog metal band from Montreal, have become one of my favorite bands. Since reforming in 2011 after almost a decade of silence, they returned with “Wheels of Impermanence” in 2012 which was one of the best albums from that year. It was an album that I could not stop listening to and it’s one of those albums that I put on when I’m not sure what I want to listen to. If you knew exactly how much music I own, you’d know how big that is!
Their new album “Outcast” is one of my most anticipated albums of 2016 and it does not disappoint at all! For those who need a comparison, Heaven’s Cry have the DNA of Rush mixed with the vibe of Fates Warning topped off with some of the best harmonies you’ll hear. Most bands have one lead vocalist, Heaven’s Cry have two!
Guitarist Pierre St. Jean and bassist Sylvain Auclair have amazing voices and they fit together PERFECTLY! It’s one thing to have a vocalist that can harmonize with himself and it’s quite another to have two that can do what these two are capable of. Along the same lines the guitar work of St. Jean and Éric Jarrin often weave around each other. It’s certainly a dual attack but to hear how they alternate riffs, listen to “Symmetry.” It’s magic.
While “Outcast” as a whole fits perfectly with the rest of their catalog, it’s even more epic than anything they’ve done previously. This is partly due to the longest song they’ve done, the nearly 15 minute epic “The Day The System Failed.” That song is the centerpiece of the whole album and has some amazing sections, big time hooks and a really nice acoustic outro. If someone needs to know what Heaven’s Cry is all about, this song, with its four movements, is a perfect representation of what they can do.
Each track is amazing though! The title track has some of their most technical playing in the middle coupled with some of their strongest melody lines to date. “If I Only Knew” has an almost schizoid feeling to it, with the verses being so heavy (especially the vocals) and then the chorus being so hooky. It’s the perfect dichotomy.
Prog metal often gets labeled as “thinking man’s metal,” but the difference with Heaven’s Cry is that they actually back up that with intelligent and thought provoking lyrics. The whole concept of “Outcast” is how fucked we are as humans thanks to the leaders who misuse their power and lead us down the wrong path. “A Shift in Scenery” points that out but offers that we can change all of that. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album.
So what about downsides, I have only one minor issue. The sample speech during the opening track “The Human Factor” goes on too long for my liking. While it does fit the song, it’d be nice to hear the music without any distraction. Toward the end of that section, the band really are getting into it with drummer Rene Lacharite showing how he drives the band forward as always. Still, that’s a VERY minor complaint. It’s something I’ve already gotten used to since I can’t stop playing this album!!!!
My hope is that more fans of great prog metal will wake the fuck up and notice Heaven’s Cry. This is an incredibly talented band that deserve to be HUGE. They put out their first two albums, went away for 10 years and came back to pick up where they left off. They were ahead of their time then and now the world has caught up with what this band can do. It’s time for everyone to give this band the attention they rightfully deserve. “Outcast” is another masterpiece from Heaven’s Cry that every prog metal band wishes they could have created, but only this band could do it.
1. The Human Factor
3. The Day The System Failed
4. If I Only Knew
5. A Shift In Scenery