Germany’s Heaven Shall Burn have a long history of combining their viscerally ravaging music with a commitment to social justice (and animal rights). They’ve found heroes in many places and dedicated songs to them, most prominently on the trilogy of Iconoclast releases that ended with 2011’s Invictus. Their seventh album Veto — due for North American release tomorrow — follows this theme, with tracks commemorating the works of an African revolutionary named Thomas Sankara (“Land of the Upright Ones”), theologian Walter Schilling (“Antagonized”), and the anti-fascist International Brigades who fought against Franco during the Spanish Civil War (“53 Nations”). But the opening track on Veto is dedicated to perhaps the most unusual of the heroes who have inspired HSB’s music.
Reaching back to the 11th Century, “Godiva” draws lessons from the Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who, according to legend, rode naked through the streets of Coventry, England, to free the common people from oppressive policies instituted by her powerful husband, who ruled the region. Tired of her appeals on behalf of the suffering townspeople, the Earl of Mercer agreed to grant her requests on their behalf if she would ride nude through the town, thinking she would never do this. But of course, she did — or so the legend has it.
Risking embarrassment or personal humiliation to stand up for the rights of others may not be as dramatic as braving bullets or imprisonment, but the lesson about social conscience among the privileged seems no less relevant. As for the song itself, we’ll borrow from our recent review of this killer new album: “The band have never sounded more vital or alive than they do on fantastic opener ‘Godiva’, which builds from an opening of sublime melancholy into a veritable firestorm of scorching vocals and powerhouse riffs, revealing a band as energetic, as pissed-off, and as driven, as ever.”
After the jump, get your first listen to “Godiva” via our premiere of Heaven Shall Burn’s official lyric video for Veto’s opening song.