REVIEW: Heathen Beast - Rise of the Saffron Empire (EP)


Political events within both the USA and Canada often leave us North Americans jaded and confused. Electing new officials usually boils down to who can lie best about who, what, how much money they have, and how fanatical their backers truly are. It has come to the point that media tycoons can take the stand simply because of their wallets, making the entire political system a joke. I don't really need to mention how bad, how thoroughly immature and shortsighted, it all is because you've definitely seen enough of it on your Facebook posts or Twitter. That being said, however, both Americans and Canadians seem to forget that they live in a rather safe environment. One that allows the expression of dislike, even hate, towards their government - and the ability to simply not participate when it comes to most governmental activities. Meanwhile, bands like Heathen Beast put themselves in danger by simply writing a three track EP about their disdain towards a terrible political situation. Yes, there are places where you don't even have the right to express your opinions through lyrics.

That being said, the fear and despair towards this situation does transfer into 'Rise of the Saffron Empire' very well. It makes for a very genuine  and inspiring experience, if not one that makes a person feel a tad guilty. There is just something about a band making a EP in lieu of their livelihood and lives. for the love of music, that puts everything in perspective. You can feel the sadness, almost melancholy, in the music as the band does their best to put their feelings towards a flawed, yet unmoving, system out in the open.

Rise of the Saffron Empire, though simple musically, is extremely captivating in its hybridized sound. Combining traditional Indian instrumentation with black metal stylistics (i.e. walls of distortion and gritty, ugly, vocals) is a truly genius idea and works surprisingly well. I'd never thought that a black metal track could sound so good without a traditional drum-set, but there exists one of this EP and it is truly fantastic - truly original. I'm simply blown away. The remaining tracks, however, are more traditional black metal fare, but of the highest possible quality.

As of writing this, it seems that Rise of the Saffron Empire may be Heathen Beast's final release. This is saddening, as I've fallen in love with what I've heard by them, but completely understandable considering their situation. Not a group to missed, even considering their brief existence.