Heathen brings Bay Area thrash to Atlanta

Written By Scott Belzer | February 28th, 2023

One of the great things about 1980s San Francisco is that it’s proven to be a never-ending well for thrash metal. For every Metallica, Exodus, Testament, or Death Angel named, there are at least a dozen others that often stay secret. Heathen is one of those bands.

Heathen has been slinging chaotic riffs and screeching guitar solos with the best thrash metal has to offer since 1984. The band’s 1987 release, Breaking the Silence, stands as a perfect blend between speedy (almost punk) aggression and traditional heavy metal melodies. It perfectly toes the line between an all-out assault on the ears and an arena rock ballad. Like many great rock bands during this era, however, Heathen went through many surprise lineup changes, resulting in too much time between records and an ultimate hiatus.

Fortunately for thrashers worldwide, Heathen’s 2020 release, Empire of the Blind, announced that the San Fran quintet is back, baby—and (hopefully) here to stay. The album brings a heavier, deeper tone, but maintains a knack for speed as well as soaring, fist-pumping rhythms. While they’re certainly no longer spring chickens, Empire of the Blind also shows the band hasn’t lost a step when shredding—so be prepared to gallop around in your favorite battle vest (preferably with beer and buddy in-hand) when listening to “The Blight,” “A Fine Red Mist” and “Monument to Ruin.”  

Heathen is bringing its brand of old-school Bay Area thrash (new genre idea: OSBAT) to Boggs Social & Supply on March 18 with support from Canadian hard rockers Arrival of Autumn and Atlanta power metal outfit Paladin.

Arrival of Autumn embodies the new wave of hard rock dominating the radio waves and local venues nationwide. The Alberta five-piece’s sound harkens back to the metalcore of the early 2000s, switching between hardcore yells and melodic hooks, sneaking in the occasional breakdown and assaulting listeners with a steady, thunderous rhythm—all while riding some pretty catchy guitar chops. And did I mention they covered “Bark at the Moon”

If you haven’t seen Atlanta’s Paladin yet, you need to change that. The band effortlessly blends elements of ‘80s thrash with traditional power metal, resulting in one of the most complete bands the city has to offer. Soaring vocals? Check. Shredding guitar? Definitely. Thundering bass and drums? Oh yeah. Surprising moments where you say, “Oh they can do that too?” Hell yes, dude. Want to feel empowered while you headbang and raise your fist to the metal gods? Want to sing so hard you can’t help but smile – only to scream seconds later? Want to have your face melted over and over and over (and over) again? Paladin has you more than taken care of, man. 

— Scott Belzer