Judas Iscariot - Heaven In Flames
Red Stream
Black Metal
7 songs (39:06)
Release year: 1999
Red Stream
Reviewed by James
Archive review

Judas Iscariot never really broke that much new ground, generally going for the fast, melodic black metal of Transilvanian Hunger-era Darkthrone, with a touch of Burzum's atmosphere (this record's closing instrumental, An Ancient Starry Sky, is the exact kind of short guitar interlude Varg employed on Burzum's first two albums).Sole member (until 2002's To Embrace The Corpses Bleeding) Akhenaten was one of the earliest to the USBM party, releasing Judas Iscariot's first demo in 1992 just as the Norwegian scene was really beginning to take flight. 10 years later, it was all over, Akhenaten having put his project to rest due to his dissatisfaction with black metal's current state. While Judas Iscariot's other works are certainly enjoyable, it's here that everything came together.

On Heaven In Flames Akhenaten puts his own spin on the template by adding a little more variety in song structure, plus the tasteful use of keyboards. Opener An Eternal Kingdom Of Fire sets the tone for one of the USBM scene's achievements, Akhenaten showing his supreme skills as a riff-writer, one of the best around in my opinion. Everything here seems more focused than its predecessor Distant In Solitary Night. Even Akhenaten's vocals have been stepped up, being one of the few black metal vocalists that you can actually understand much of the time. Admittedly he doesn't have all that much to say, the lyrics tackling standard Satanic/anti-Christian themes. The aforementioned keys lay down an ambient backing for the music, very occasionally coming to the forefront. Interestingly, a rare version of this album was released on tape in 1998 sans keys, before the final product was released some months later.

On a record such as Heaven In Flames it feels a bit silly to discuss actual songs, as they all cover the same territory apart from An Ancient Starry Sky. It's the few deviations from the formula that jump out at the listener, from the oddly slow-paced Eternal Bliss... Eternal Death, to the intro to From Hateful Visions' opening riff, which ranks as one of the more unusual black metal riffs I've heard. It's got an almost alt-rock feel to it, albeit channeled through the standard Judas Iscariot sound. Despite the fact that everything here is fairly similar, Ahkenaten has enough talent to make every song enjoyable. Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, the record is concise enough to avoid boredom and repetition.

Perhaps it's fitting that Judas Iscariot bowed out just as USBM was rising as a whole, as they don't really fit in with, say, Leviathan. Aside from geographical locale, hailing from Illinois rather than the west-coast dominated group of bands carrying the torch today, Ahkenaten never wallowed in the misery of today's USBM-ers, preferring to use music to spit bile at organized religion. Ahkenaten seems to have abandoned music altogether, relocating to Germany. He will be missed.

Killing Songs :
All are of equal standing.
James quoted 92 / 100
Other albums by Judas Iscariot that we have reviewed:
Judas Iscariot - To Embrace the Corpses Bleeding reviewed by Daniel and quoted 84 / 100
2 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 5 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:45 pm
View and Post comments