Cosmic beasts Blasted Heath aim for alien devastation, terrifying messages on molten debut ‘Vela’

We all see it. We all see it.

As we’re on day two of our duo of space-related records, there is some distinction that needs to be made based around what you’re hearing, as that can go all kind of different ways. It’s outer space, and that’s an unpredictable place where you might think it’s going to be calm and spacious, but you don’t know what horrors also lurk. That pleasant dream can suddenly turn into terror.

Indianapolis black metal/thrash destroyers Blasted Heath is that nightmare lurking behind the darker parts of stars, waiting for you to make your move so they can devour you whole. Their stunning debut record “Vela” certainly exists among stardust, but it’s a nasty mind fuck, something that’s warped and incomprehensible that can take your psyche apart. The band—vocalist/guitarist Kyle Shumaker, guitarist Billy DeRocker, bassist Joe Clark, drummer Conrad Cotterman—floods this thing with intensity, devastating power, and vocals are like extraterrestrial transmissions, making it feel like a message from beyond that makes no bones about its mission to shock your system and fry your brain.

“Big Chill” is your introduction to this insanity, and it bleeds in with the riffs taking over quickly. The vocals are awash in reverb, something that is a trademark of this album and is really alluring. The leads blaze as everything spirals, the vocals smash, and everything comes to a violent end. “Ape” is a spirited jaunt with the echoed howls hammering, immersed in psychosis, and things chug hard as we move closer to alien planets. Strange clouds hover as things speed up and enter punk chaos, the guitars racing off into the sun. “Europa” brings spindling guitars that have a psychedelic edge, and the playing weaves as the energy plays tricks with your mind. The vocals carve as a strange space weirdness hangs over and threatens, clean calls enter the mix, and then the guitars echo and slip off behind the moon.

“Dark Energy” trickles in and darkens the skies, then the vocals tear through and mash digits, leaving you in pain. The humidity increases as the threat increases, the howls echo through time, and the final moments soak the ground. “Neutron Star” propels into the cosmos, guitars burning behind it, melodies flooding the senses. The aura is immersive as a strange starry blanket envelopes you, ringing in your ears and jostling your balance as the track stampedes into the void. “The Wind in Vela” explodes after ominous clips about the end of civilization, and the playing goes heavily toward black metal glory. There’s an elegance as well as a sludgy bruising, combining terror and adventure, twisting through the stars and ending in a vapor trail. Closer “Strange Matter” is the longest track at 7:18, and things slowly dawn, picking up the strange pace, twisting your dreams. It’s punchy and plastering as the vocals unload chaos, thrashing with speed and melody. The howls fry as the tempo combusts, the leads gush with colors, and the final moments dissolve into time.

Metal has had quite the relationship with the cosmos for the past decade, something that seems to be strengthening and growing more adventurous. Blasted Heath bring so many bizarre elements to the mix on “Vela,” and they do this in a way that adds to the conversation in their own way. These songs are a blast to absorb, it tries to alter your metallic DNA, and it leaves strange marks all over your body you don’t remember receiving while stuck on their craft.

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