To Heaven and Back
Heavenwood live in Porto, Portugal
by: Pedro Azevedo
Portugal is finally gaining some respect in the metal scene. After the well-known Moonspell from Lisbon, here are Heavenwood, coming from the great city of Porto. In fact, despite Moonspell's first full-length, _Wolfheart_, being one of my favourite albums of all time, Heavenwood's debut, _Diva_, clearly beats Moonspell's latest, _Irreligious_. And watching Heavenwood live makes this much clearer. So who the hell are Heavenwood? Well, they're a six-piece band from Portugal's second biggest city, Porto. They released an excellent demo tape which got them signed by Massacre, in which they set their style, combining some mid-paced doom, some melodic death, some (little) goth, but always dynamic and melodic. Their debut, _Diva_, turned out to have a slightly softer, almost Crematory-like sound than before. Still damn good, though. All the excellent demo tape songs were included.

This concert was a warm-up show for their upcoming European tour with Atrocity and excellent Swedish band In Flames. Therefore, this was a small venue, not much publicity. Only about a hundred metal maniacs gathered up to watch the show. The room was full, though. Heavenwood were going to play with no support band, so everyone expected them to play for about an hour... and they did.

The place had some good atmosphere, dim lights with some torches up front, and then the band showed up. After an atmospheric keyboard intro, they teared into the excellent opening riff of "Frozen Images", a song which kind of reminds me of Paradise Lost. First, the sound. Very loud drums, good. And the surprise... you could actually hear both guitars just perfect! The vocals also sounded very good, so did the keyboards. Overall, the sound was excellent, much, much better than I ever thought it would be.

Well, after playing their opening song, and a very good one too, they linked it to "Emotional Wound" (as in the CD), fading from one into the other and actually blending the two. This being one of my favourite songs, it rocked. Well, so did all the others. Then, to my great surprise, they linked again to the third song. I mean, I was just blown away by these, three in a row! And what really blew me away was that they played these three without one single mistake... they played PERFECTLY!! Even the most difficult guitar and keyboard parts came out great, just perfect. The live vocals sounded very good, and the new drummer was remarkably well blended in the band, and only made one small mistake.

After this epic start, they paused for a little while and proceeded with the show, highlights everywhere, and they kept on playing perfect. One of my other favourite songs, the My Dying Bride-influenced "Since the First Smile", came out melodically perfect, and with that extra live power. The mosh pit started hard, though not constant. They played the rest of the album, though I think they played "Judith Heavenwood", an absolute fan-favourite, for a second time in the end, leaving one of the other songs out. Nonetheless, it was just brilliant. They just sound so much more powerful live. And the remarkable thing is, they sound so powerful and yet keep all the melody CD-like!

With this concert, Heavenwood have proven themselves as good as, or even better, than Moonspell, especially live. The message here is, go watch them if you can, 'cause they're great and so are In Flames. And give their CD, _Diva_, a listen if you can, too. They delivered 55 minutes of pure live metallic excellence. I expect a very good future for this band.

(article submitted 2/1/1997)

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