GortCroatian band Gothaurs Wrath are accredited as a black metal band. Having listened to their second full album “War for Heaven”, I’d suggest that they’ve moved on considerably from this description.

Words I would use to describe this album are big, growly, fast, furious and epic. I detect black and death metal influences for sure but this bone-shaking stuff has tones of Amon Amarth and Varg. There’s heaps of melody and for that reason it’s a headbanger’s delight. Technically it’s good although the overall atmosphere doesn’t change much, like, say, a Motorhead album. The one exception is the opening intro, which is sad, dreamy and orchestral and accordingly completely out of line with the rest of it. The album gets going with “Übermensch”. It’s fire and thunder all the way but heavy as it is, it’s more rock and roll than extreme. Guitars blaze, drums rumble and roars are emitted. It’s epic too. “Übermensch” settles into a melodic Viking-style metal pattern. There’s even a bit of Dark Tranquillity in the melody. It may be gruff but it’s catchy. Towards the end there’s an intriguing bit of keyboard work. There are plenty of ideas, it’s accessible and as the album goes on, it’s clear that Gorthaurs Wrath are not a band who are going to be stopped in their tracks. “The Lucifer Rebellion” is another of many energetic romps. Drums trigger as a clever little riff helps it along. The message is constantly dark so there’s no danger of falling into the trap of thinking that this heavy metal is a backdrop for a bit of unprovoked jollity. Yet “The Lucifer Rebellion” is anthemic, smooth and battle-laden: great stuff. “Misery, suffering and humiliation is all that you stand for, sacrifice and constant pain only thing you hope for …” preaches the vocalist on “Birth of Sin”. Again it’s relentlessly tight and hard-hitting. This time it’s a bit more a cross between Rock n Roll and the driving force of Motorhead.

Although the atmosphere remains constantly dark, there are variations between the tracks here. While “Inverted Spirits” is another controlled thrashathon, “Coming Down to Earth” is slower and steadier. It retains the constant epic quality but I prefer the faster songs, I have to say. Engaging as this album is, I found that for most of it I could listen to it while doing something else. “1000 Years” broke that mould with its sense of doom yet uplifting quality … “You will rise above, cross the line”. Heaviness meets mobility. So it does on the rousing and battle-orientated “The Son of Belial”, yet strangely it didn’t reach the higher levels of my psyche with its impact, even with its metallic emotional climax. I appreciated the colourful riffage and air of mystery on “Dawn of a New Race”, which was made more interesting by the introduction of a female voice. I wondered if, to mix it up a bit, if this would have been better placed earlier in the album. The same applies to the instrumental “Supreme Illusion”, which has a spooky air coming out of its gentle acoustic tones but being so late in the album, came across as a bit of an add-on. It all called for a rousing last track but it didn’t really come. “Faithfall”, to be fair, is upbeat and laden with sweeping darkness. It’s not pretty but it’s bludgeoning. That’s fine but it needed a dash of colour like we had on “The Lucifer Rebellion” and other earlier tracks. I found “Faithfall” a bit flat.

It’s always disappointing when an album doesn’t capture 100% of my attention. I found that some sections of “War for Heaven” succeeded in this whereas others didn’t. As a whole, it’s of a high standard but taken as a whole, it lacked all the ingredients to draw me in. I didn’t always know where it was pitched, especially when it moved away from the fiery metal melodies which Gorthaurs Wrath are very good at.

(7/10 Andrew Doherty)