Heavenwood is one of the bands I got to know in the mid nineties. They released two excellent albums, namely ‘Diva’ (1996) and ‘Swallow’ (1998). The band who earlier suffered from the sudden suicide of their bassist recovered completely and toured with Atrocity, In Flames, Theater Of Tragedy and Lake Of Tears. After their second album they even played as first Portuguese band at Wacken Open Air (even before Moonspell). Then the candle went out and Heavenwood seemed to die an early death due to internal problems and line-up changes. That was a pity!
The more it is joyful news to hear that three core members have joined forces and wrote new songs again. Ernesto Guerra (vocals), Ricardo Dias (vocals, guitars) and guitarist Bruno Silva still felt the old fire burning in their Portuguese hearts! Together with session bass player and session drummer Daniel Cardoso a next album came into being. This album, called ‘Redemption’, leads us directly back to the nineties; not so much has changed and that is a pro.
Clean vocals are relished with a number of fine grunts and all this on a bed of heavy guitars with a dark touch. Initially it all sounds very familiar, yet these guys have an eye for the evolution in time which did not pass them unnoticed. They recorded the ten songs in their own Portuguese studio (UltraSound in Braga, their hometown) but contracted out the mix and mastering to the Swedish phenomenon Jens Bogren, famous for his works with Katatonia, Opeth, Amon Amarth and more. So we can be brief about the sound: top notch quality!
Over to the compositions: they have much in common with their earlier works and after ten years of absence this happens to be a remarkable thing. Heavenwood was not disconcerted by modern facilities! They consciously chose for the music they like. This is a quite relaxed amalgamation of gothic metal, regaled with clean vocals and grunts and graced with melodious yet heavy guitars.
They lean more towards a Scandinavian sound than to a Portuguese timbre, that’s for sure. Now and then a piano intervention, (‘Foreclosure’), towards the end more grunts loom up, but in the end it happens to be a catchy gothic metal CD on the old, accepted lines with a modern approach spread over the genuine written songs. The icing on the cake are the guest appearances: Jeff Waters (Annihilator) plays a guitar solo in ‘Bridge To Neverland’, Firewind’s Gus G. cuts loose on his six-strings in ‘One Step To Devotion’ and Tijs Vanneste (Oceans Of Sadness) does a vocal contribution in ‘Obsolete’.