Bay Area thrash legends HEATHEN are back with a new album, ‘Empire of the Blind’ that pushes the limits of aggression, melody, and heaviness. But as per usual with Heathen, it’s a lot more than melodic heaviness. It’s a statement about our societal condition and the destructive kind of modern lifestyle dictated by social media.
Empire of the Blind is a big metaphor for modern society, one run by social media, the power of immediacy, the persuasiveness of emotion, and how an empire (or nation) can so easily slip into complacency and groupthink. Songs like “This Rotting Sphere,” “The Blight,” “Blood to Be Let,” and the expansive, riff-splosive title track work to transport the listener into HEATHEN’s view of and comment on our Orwellian devolution. But the lyrics on Empire of the Blind are more than frustrated missives on contemporary sociology/anthropology. They’re also a lens into HEATHEN’s personal triumphs and travails.
I had a conceptual chat with David because the moment I hear the word ‘Orwellian’ you know I’m sold.
Welcome to MHF Magazine and congrats on the new album. You made thrash come to life again.
Let’s hear the first thing that comes to your mind. Unfiltered, unapologetic, and genuine thoughts.
The first thing that comes to mind is the evolution of chaos. We watch how things have evolved in our world in our society some for good and some for not so good, but we are constantly changing constantly evolving.
More people need to understand what that means and why it’s so important that every human needs that in their DNA. We need to understand what it feels like to be in someone else shoes.
We are kind of living that right? I think as humans we are quite predictable, and unpredictable at the same time. One of our great predictabilities is our unpredictabilities. We tend to repeat things, and always good things. And history has a way of repeating itself. It’s as if the planet is trying to teach us and give us second chances, and third and fourth chances to get it right, and sometimes we are too blind to see it.
That’s when it all began. For me, 1984 was the beginning of Heathen. The journey that began for us, I joined in 1986 but the band started in 1984. We are now reflecting on the state of the world through the different decades that we’ve been through. The world is changing in a rapid fashion. With technology and everything, we are getting way ahead o ourselves. But we need to take a pause, and maybe that’s what happening right now with COVID. It’s a learning time for us, a chance to take a pause and try to see how we can all be on the same page globally so that we can get through this together. We are watching it unfold as we speak.
Blinders. People choose blinders. So that they don’t have to recognize what’s right in front of their faces. There are different ways to put blinders on. Whether it’s believing false information and not investigate on your own, to be educated enough to know what is going on, but also sometimes it can be overwhelming for some people and they don’t want to know. They just want things to be simple.
Bleak. The visual representation of the album, the artwork it’s pretty bleak. It’s indicative of what’s happening on the music of the record. We have always been conscious of what happens around us and this vision was really Kragen Lum’s. And working with Travis Smith on the art, he listened to the music and was inspired, being the artist that he is. I would take is as a warning to where we are heading.
A really hard fall if we don’t wake up.
Social Media Totalitarianism
It’s an interesting thing, It was meant for us to be social, and the internet overall has connected us worldwide in so many wonderful ways but unfortunately this world there’s always the yin yang effect; there’s the good and there’s the bad. People will use something so amazing for something destructive or negative and you know, even with my Facebook or Instagram I try to keep it fun, to stay connected with friends, fans, and family, as well as with the band and other bands so that we all stay connected. I try to avoid political things, on my feed, I try to get rid of those right away.
Musically speaking: Empire of the Blind
It’s a huge step a positive step, a great record, and a great time for music. We are really proud of it and we hope that it will solidify us in the heavy metal world and we hope to back that record up very soon. If it wasn’t for this virus we would be on the road now, we’d be on a tour. We would be on the second leg of our European tour. We hope the record will inspire people.
With the current line up and the last one as well we are kind of spread out on the map. Generally, we are based in the bay area, but, I’m actually in Florida part of the time now. We get together, we have face time, we chat with each other. But when we are together, when we are on the road, we all get along really well. With the new guys the new dynamism curious to see how it’s like to be on the road together because we still haven’t played together as a band.
I try to stay positive and motivated. Play music, listen to music.
Eat good food and drink good wine and good beer.
Lots of meditation going on in this house as well.
At this point in the interview, we kind of strayed away from my questions but if you think about it, that’s the entire point of doing the ‘first thing that comes to mind, right? So, we ended up chatting about meditation.
I told David that I can’t meditate for the life of me and he was curious to find out why and figure out a way to talk me into it.
I explained that I simply can’t hold still. I’m pretty active and as a workaholic, I’d rather use that time to create something. Also if you leave me alone with my thoughts I will eventually start feeling low. He explained that there are so many ways to meditate you font have to sit still. And he was right. It doesn’t always have to be abut clearing one’s, mind. His wife is like that as well. A workaholic who can’t stop thinking. But David finds it important to take that time for yourself and meditate so he looked into alternative ways. Like listening to sounds, and trying to be mindful for a moment. I promised that I would give it a go. David, if you are reading this I did. I used raid sounds and let my mind wonder thought that which I enjoyed a lot and I will definitely do it again in the future. So thank you for that.
Regarding their future plans, they have another single, and another lyric video coming at the beginning of august, for the Empire of the Blind, and of course, the album is being released in September. Also, they have an interesting video coming up for the song Sun in my Head, an animated video that is amazing. It’s the artist’s interpretation of the song and you know everyone interprets music differently so that’s so interesting to see someone else’s perspective and to be able to illustrate it, said David.
The artist is Costin Chioreanu and we are all looking forward to it.
Until the next one,