Heaven’s Cry – Food For Thought Substitute
Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
It was by lucky coincidence that I stumbled over the progressive metal band Heaven’s Cry from Montreal while looking for music of new or unknown bands in a record store recently. The band’s name, as well as the cover artwork of their first two records, immediately appealed to me. I gave the records a few spins at the store and decided to buy one first, and the other one only two days later.
When I talk about progression, there are two sides of the band. The first is driven by heavy riffs, rather abrupt rhythm sections, technical song writing, and grounded, powerful vocals. This side of the band reminds me of Voivod from time to time. I guess this is not by pure coincidence, because both bands come from the same province and Heaven’s Cry main song writer, guitar player, and lead singer Pierre St-Jean plays bass guitar on Voivod’s The Outer Limits, as well as the tour that followed the release.
The second side of the band’s progressive nature is much more epic. It’s also warmer, and a great counterpart to the first style. These passages are driven by progressive rock, and remind me of Pendragon or Spock’s Beard, for example. The ballads are not a far cry from the calmer tracks from Dream Theater and even Queensrÿche. The mixture of both styles and the fact that the band homogenously switches between both by offering fluid transitions and catchy hooks makes Heaven’s Cry a very unique band in my mind.
The record starts with a few heavier tracks. The catchy opener “Your God’s Crime” convinces with great technical skills, a catchy chorus, and intriguing lyrics that criticize a few things in society such as financial power abuse and governmental control that have remained relevant until today. The catchy and even more progressive grower “Face” has similar strengths, but features more philosophical lyrics about the essence of facing reality and living your lives.
The warmer and more laid back tracks slowly start to appear with “The Alchemist”, which opens with acoustic guitars, laid back clean vocals, and a few atmospheric background noises. When the electric guitars set in, they are very melodic and of a progressive power metal vibe. The track goes even further, including a few heavier parts and some incredible bass guitar work. This song can maybe be described as the band’s most complete and diversified track on the entire album. This is the evident highlight here, but it definitely requires some concentration to grow on you. Another track of similar quality comes along with the catchy “Gaia’s Judgement”, which carries a dreamy vibe and features some soft symphonic keyboard samples that enhance that atmosphere. The longest track on the album, “The Horde”, is also a rather calm progressive track with a warm atmosphere wherein all instruments have their place and time to shine.
The band includes a few more challenging tracks on the record that need some time to work themselves in (such as the very detailed “March”), but most of the songs open up after the first few tries. What we have here is a creative and technically sophisticated (but not overly complicated or overwhelming) release that will certainly appeal to die-hard progressive rock and metal fans. Food For Thought Substitute is a perfect album title in two senses, because the lyrics will make you think about certain things while the music leads you into a world of magic. The small province of Quebec turns more and more into a cradle of innovating progressive metal bands, and I still discover loads of intriguing bands each year I live here. Fans of creative rock and metal music should come around to this high quality debut, and be assured that the next release is even better!
4.5 // 5