HERETIC — Breaking Point (review)

HERETIC — Breaking Point album cover Album · 1988 · US Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
UMUR
"Breaking Point" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Los Angeles, California based power/heavy metal act Heretic. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in August 1988. Heretic was in their original run a rather short lived act who formed in 1985 and disbanded in 1988. They released the "Torture Knows No Boundary (1986)" EP and "Breaking Point" before disbanding. The material on "Breaking Point" was re-released in 1991 as part of the compilation album "The Don't Turn Your Back!! & Breaking Point". There´s been one lineup change since the release of the "Torture Knows No Boundary (1986)" EP as lead vocalist Julian Mendez has been replaced by Mike Howe. The latter would soon depart again though to become a member of the more prolific Metal Church. A departure which in part resulted in the end of Heretic.

Stylistically the music on "Breaking Point" takes the traditional heavy metal style of "Torture Knows No Boundary (1986)" and twists it in a darker and more heavy US power metal oriented direction. Julian Mendez was a skilled vocalist with a strong voice, but Mike Howe is arguably a more distinct sounding and powerful singer. He has the right raw butch bark, but can also hit the high notes when that is called for, and always with a melodic sensibility to his delivery. The rest of the band are well playing too, delivering hard edged heavy metal riffs and blistering solos, and pounding energetic mid-paced rhythms.

The production is raw, powerful, and relatively well sounding for the time. The rhythm guitars could have featured a bit more bite and a more fat tone, and the drums didn´t need all those reverb effects, but the bass, and the vocals, sound pretty good in the mix. I especially enjoy how loud and clear the bass is heard and how active it is in the music.

The material on the 10 track, 44:43 minutes long album shift between traditional heavy metal oriented tracks like "Heretic" and "Evil for Evil" and US power metal oriented tracks like "And Kingdoms Fall" and "The Circle", so to my ears "Breaking Point" isn´t a 100% US power metal album. In fact it´s often closer to traditional heavy metal than to power metal. To my ears Heretic are best when they play US power metal because they sound a bit more generic and old fashioned when they play the more traditional heavy metal parts. In addition the the power/heavy metal tracks on the "Breaking Point", the album also features the instrumental "Pale Shelter", which is placed about mid-way through the album. It´s a nice atmospheric breather featuring acoustic guitar and some keyboards. It´s quite the beautiful little piece, and could seamlessly have been worked into a ballad type track if a vocal melody had been added to it.

Upon conclusion "Breaking Point" is a quality US power/heavy metal release by Heretic and especially fans of Metal Church should take notice and check this one out. Personally I think the songwriting is a bit up and down and the production could have been slightly better sounding too, but the high level musicianship makes up for some of that and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is fully deserved.
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