Sunday, 18 August 2013

American Heritage - Sedentary


A little while ago I wrote about Art of Burning Water. They were a band that I was really excited to review and they didn't let me down. It's very much the same with American Heritage. Having similarly read about them in a Rock Sound review of their split CD with the aforementioned Art of Burning Water and Foe, it brought back memories of when I started to dig deeper to unearth more obscure bands. Not much has changed for me since then. Moving onto today's review, I was sent an e-mail from French label Solar Flare Records back in October last year, telling me about their co-op vinyl release of Sedentary alongside Prototype Records. I'm a lot more organised than I was then with the blog, so it's with an amount of humiliation that I pick this up now.

There's a lot of people I'm sure who already know of American Heritage. From their self-titled EP in 1998, right through to their splits with bands like Thee Plague of Gentlemen, Mastodon and beyond, they've not been a band to mess about. The fact that their CD version of Sedentary was released by Translation Loss Records speak volumes. Sedentary is filled with eleven tracks of sludge-ridden, technical noise.

Tracklist:-

1. City Of God
2. Sickening Rebellion
3. Chaotic Obliteration
4. Vessels / Vassals
5. Fetal Attraction
6. Tomb Cruise
7. Slave By Force
8. Kiddie Pool of Baby Blood
9. Abduction Cruiser
10. Morbid Angle
11. WWDHD
 

It's with a sense of anticipation and excitement that I press play on Sedentary. Being a fan of both Mastodon and Art of Burning Water, both bands that American Heritage are associated with, I knew that this was gonna be heavy. The technicality was the first thing that hit me. Opener City of God set out that stall early, with off-kilter but melodic riffs that bounced effortlessly along. The drums in the background offered a constant wall of noise while the bass added that low-end sludgy buzz that's ever present now. The vocals surprised me though, as they were more sung that screamed. I was expecting blood curdling, low belched screams but the tones at which they were delivered was unexpected and welcome. Sickening Rebellion was where those crushing vocals and brutality of the band were unearthed. The screeching feedback, solo's and harsh vox provided a brief wall of claustrophobic noise, which justified the shorter song. American Heritage's main selling point for me was their guitar work. As in Chaotic Obliteration, they play some awesome extended instrumental sections where the technicality of the band shows through. The occasional treble and melody adding some respite and similarities to those bands mentioned above were more obvious.

American Heritage stands alone though in my opinion. They have their own sound and set their own atmosphere, being at the slightly more accessible end of the sludge spectrum with Sedentary. Their mixture of longer more traditional songs and hardcore influenced, noisier blasts shows comforting variation and the sense of musicianship that takes experience to gain. Bands nowadays can come across as too polished and technically endowed, but they lack emotion and feeling, which are two things that American Heritage have in abundance. Their more progressive song writing is evident during Vessels/Vassals, with more of that great guitar work. One other observation too is that they don't come across as too Americanised, which may seem like a strange statement, but American Heritage sound more European. This comes across most in the delivery of the vocals during the heaving mass that is Fetal Attraction, with all it's punk attitude.

That punk feeling remained during Tomb Cruise. During the mid-section of Sedentary, American Heritage definitely took a more urgent direction, which breaks the album up. I like sludge and slower songs, but sometimes a whole record can be too much so being able to break that up and add momentum is positive. Throughout Sedentary, I can hear a lot of the ideas and textures that have filtered through to many of today's darker, slower hardcore bands. Obviously the album was only released in 2011 but the sound possessed on it was built up over ten years or more. Slave By Force and Kiddie Pool of Baby Blood are where the hardcore sound really comes to life. The speed of the songs that both start with slow, crawling intro riffs change the direction of the album again. The passage at the start of Abduction Cruiser gets faster and faster but before it reaches a chaotic conclusion, American Heritage throttle back and kick into a mid-paced verse. Harking back to the albums earlier songs, Abduction Cruiser feels more engaging and approachable while still sounding utterly crazed.

Morbid Angle (awesome song title!) is pleasing to these ears. From the disorientating feedback at the start to the noisy intensity of the song, it's one of the heaviest songs yet manages to be musically and instrumentally untouchable. It's my standout track on Sedentary. They close the record with the epic and atmospheric WWDHD. The slow, thoughtful guitar and drums stand tall next to those cleaner vocals that opened proceedings. Its soaring technicality seems simpler on the ear and thanks to the longer running time, it's the perfect way to reflect on the album as a whole. From the thickness and heaviness to the punk attitude, it's full of twists and turns which make it brilliant. There's not really much more to say!

You can stream Sedentary on American Heritage's bandcamp page below:-



There's a variety of formats that you can purchase Sedentary in as well. Firstly, you can buy it digital for $1 from their bandcamp page.

You can buy it on CD from Translation Loss Records here - http://translationloss.com/store.htm.

If vinyl is your bag, you can get it from Solar Flare Records at http://www.solarflarerds.com and from Prototype Records at http://prototyperecords.bigcartel.com/

American Heritage Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/American-Heritage
Solar Flare Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/solarflarerecords
Prototype Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/prototyperecords
Translation Loss Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TranslationLossRecords

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