Certain bands aren't huge names in their genre or style but nonetheless inspire smiles from those who are aware of them; Heathen are such a band. Heathen aren't as well known as Testament or Exodus, two other combos that came out of the Bay Area thrash scene of the '80s. But the moshers who are hip to Heathen are quick to give them props, and The Evolution of Chaos gives those moshers no reason to think any less of them. This early-2010 release is Heathen's first full-length album of new studio recordings since 1991's Victims of Deception; Heathen's 2004 release Recovered contained several new recordings (mostly covers) along with four previously unreleased 1991 demos for what was supposed to be the Opiate of the Masses EP. The Evolution of Chaos is a solid outing that finds Heathen's 2010 lineup -- David White on lead vocals, Lee Altus and Kragen Lum on guitar, Jon Torres on bass, and Darren Minter on drums -- combining high-speed thrashiness with epic power metal tendencies. Power metal, of course, was always a major influence on thrash, which owes a huge artistic debt to both power metal and punk. Epic hooks and choruses are things that thrash usually doesn't borrow from power metal, but there is no overlooking just how epic things get on "Red Tears of Disgrace," "Undone," "A Hero's Welcome," and other tracks. And as blistering as The Evolution of Chaos becomes at times, Heathen are appealingly melodic through the 68-minute CD; this is an album that values nuance as well as intensity and caffeinated aggression. Headbangers who hold thrash metal and power metal in equally high regard should have no problem getting into The Evolution of Chaos.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson