Consisting of four veterans of the Vancouver music scene who crawled out of the swamp in 2014 with a shit load of gear, six years on Heron have offered up their third full-length release, Time Immemorial. Coming from Canada but signed to UK-based Sludgelord Records, they sit sonically alongside some great fellow doomsters such as Wallowing and Torpor, and hopefully will join such bands on these shores soon. Combining agonising Carcass-esque vocals with crushing Neurosis-style riffs and thunderous and doomy but occasionally crusty drums while experimenting with tempo changes, Heron have created a formidable beast.
‘Long In The Tooth’ is the longest track at nearly nine minutes, and it doesn’t so much kick off as it does slowly lurch into life with downtuned guitar and bass, setting the understated pace as well as the concept of eternity of the album. It’s not until almost halfway through the track that the snarling anguished vocals kick in and really dial up the misery. The languid but heavy-as-fuck drumming starts out determinedly drawn out before speeding up towards the end of the track, carrying on the pace as it delves into a cacophonous frenzy.
Elsewhere, ‘Death On The Malahat’ has a sense of urgency and slightly faster pace building up to a more extreme death metal vibe. The crawl through the quagmire persists in ‘Boiling Ancient Light’, with a marching drumbeat contrasting the thick-enough-to-choke-on fuzzy sludge riffs. There’s even a hint of uplifting post-metal guitar licks which add an extra layer of dynamics and are well juxtaposed against the echoing snarls.
‘Void Eater’ is a notable highlight of the album, boasting a solemn atmosphere with more blackened hints. Dual vocals play off each other taking on a shrillness to counteract low growls. Guitar soars to higher levels while the bass stubbornly rumbles along.
Now it’s true that covers of songs aren’t always gratefully received but when it’s a track that’s arguably underplayed by the band themselves, in this case the almighty Entombed, and the track in question is ‘Wolverine Blues’ – then it’s forgivable and even welcomed, especially when it’s been dragged through a sludgy swamp to sound filthy and foreboding with more Jeff Walker-style vocals and a crusty edge for good measure.
Veering off in a much more serious direction the album finishes with ‘Endless’, where the vocals are contorted and stretched out but the bass and guitar take on a bit of a groove before returning to a daunting chug. The cathartic tone is broken by the return of uplifting post-rock which takes the atmosphere soaring back to happy heights before concluding with a crushing finale.
Sure, it might perpetuate the agonising feeling of misery and hopelessness but that’s the point, right? Sometimes you just pure catharsis. So, if you like it low and slow give these guys a listen and turn it up loud ’cause it’s perfect in the misery of our current Groundhog Day of existence.
Time Immemorial is out now on Sludgelord Records. Order here.
Words: Abi Coulson