At first glance, the cover art of Heaven Host‘s debut EP, Thou art my Hiding Place and my Shield, presented me with the comforting form of a Valknut. This, set against a cosmic back-drop and framing a single eye, was something that immediately appealed to my spiritual and philosophical interests – Heathenism blended with the cosmic mysteries of Sacred Geometry. Whatever the nature of the music contained within, I was a captive audience.
The nature of the music is described by the Russian artist, and their label Lichterklang, as Martial Industrial. Now, I’ll admit to being somewhat repelled by this classification; it is not one which embodies beauty for me, yet this EP is quite beautiful sounding. Neo-Classical, which seems to be their secondary classification, is more fitting. It is Martial Industrial in the same way that Triarii or Winglord are – in its technical aspects. Yet the overwhelming feel of the EP is one of soaring melody rather than the darker obscurity of its named influences: Puissance and early Laibach.
The first song, the EP’s title-track, opens with spoken-word samples and builds from piano to synth to an urgent sounding percussion. The melodies throughout the EP are uplifting and rarely sluggish. They are designed not to encourage thought but rather to encourage action – a feeling reminiscent of Winglord’s work. Though, having said that, there does develop a question in the mind as to what sort of action is encouraged. And here’s where this release unveils its more unique attraction: Christian celebration.
It wasn’t until after I had traversed these four songs, several times over, that I took a closer look at the cover art to discover that it was not a Valknut, but three overlaid triangles – presumably representing the Christian Holy Trinity. In hindsight, the music alone displays Heaven Host’s allegiances, not to mention the name (though heaven, from Proto-Germanic hibin, need not be a Judeo-Christian peculiarity). The fourth and final song ‘Temple of Solitude’ is carried by the muttering of psalms and provides the EP’s most contemplative moment. The Christian focus of ‘Thou art my Hiding Place and my Shield’ may have dissuaded me from giving this a fair chance, but I’m glad it didn’t (through a twist of first impressions). Heaven Host have been bold enough to make a polarizing statement, and have proven that they have the creative ability to meet that boldness with quality.
1) Thou art my Hiding Place and my Shield
2) Kruzhis’ so Mnoj Smert’, Kak V Galaktikah Kruzhatsja Zvezdy (Part I)
3) Kruzhis’ so Mnoj Smert’, Kak V Galaktikah Kruzhatsja Zvezdy (Part II)
4) Temple of Solitude