Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Herod - They Were None


Tracklist:

1. The Fall
2. The Glory North
3. Inner Peace
4. Northern Lights
5. Sad Hill Part 1
6. We Are The Failure
7. Albert Fish
8. Betraying Satan
9. Watch 'em Die
10. No Forgiveness For Vultures
11. Sad Hill Part 2

Seeing this band's record appear in my inbox brought back some memories. It's been a while since I've read about of heard anything by Swiss metallers Herod, but they released an album last year via Danish label Mighty Music (the label I remember for releasing music by the likes of Raunchy and A  Kid Hereafter, amongst others). They've been a home to European metal for many years. Herod themselves have quite a history. Featuring members from bands like Twisted and A Fine Day To Exit, debut album They Were None was originally recorded three years ago before finally seeing a full a release last year. 

Herod have billed themselves as a progressive sludge band with influences stretching from Cult Of Luna to Converge to King Crimson! They’re certainly heavy on album opener The Fall. Their sound here edges more towards hardcore while retaining the experimental edge of German cousins The Ocean (collective). This opener was always going to test people at nearly ten-minutes long, but it’s angular riffs and off-kilter time signatures are definitely rousing. The song is split into two distinct movements with both coarse screams and clean vocals making an appearance, while the latter half is made up heavy instrumental metal for the most part. There’s more to Herod’s music than just sludge though. The Glory North is chock full of subtle nuances of sound and metallic guitar that belies their progressive nature. I guess that’s where the Converge influence starts to show itself. I’ll be honest, it’s been a little while since I’ve sat down and actively listened to actual progressive metal. I’m a bit out of practice after months of black metal/grind/hardcore worship. Hearing Inner Peace takes me back over ten years to the days before I’d properly discovered those genres of heavy music and was still being drip-fed exciting new music by the likes of Rock Sound and Metal Hammer magazines. Outside of the guitar work on They Were None, there isn’t much in the way of melody to Herod’s music. They are very European in their approach and having been in multiple bands previously, they’ve learned how to create atmosphere in their own way. Northern Lights is as majestic as the natural phenomenon it’s named after. The Mastodon-like guitar alongside the technical drumming reminds you that there are still progressive bands to be proud of. It’s an art form that not too many bands manage to actually pull off without sounding boring. Sad Hill Part 1 is a bit of a departure for Herod, as it’s quite restrained and is solely instrumental, which actually does a good job of breaking things up a bit. We Are The Failure goes slightly grungy. Excuse my comparison, but that’s what the vocals remind me of. The song itself is mid-paced and less immediate. Thankfully be the time the bizarrely titled Albert Fish comes around, Herod are finding their level again. It’s not warp-speed but it just seems more wholesome to me. They sound of Betraying Satan is strangely distant. Maybe that’s the approach they wanted here baring in mind the song’s subject. That distance is only felt during the opening verse though, as they pepper the song with melodic guitar that washes over the recording and gives it plenty of warmth. Again, Watch ‘Em Die features a passing nod to The Ocean during it’s math-laden delivery. No Forgiveness For Vultures feels weirdly occult during the Russian spoken-word that heralds in the song. It’s bitterly stark and actually works really in the context of Herod’s music. It begins to fade slowly as the instrumentation builds but it just sits on top of the recording, like a reminder that the Iron Curtain is still very much alive. After nearly three-minutes of that, Herod spring into life in menacing fashion. There’s one last opportunity to groove to their metal on Sad Hill Part 2, before it descends into a mountain of earth-shattering feedback. At nearly an hour, They Were None is definitely an album that requires attention but Herod manage to hold that attention throughout. They’ve waited a long time to get this out there, but the wait was worth it!

They Were None is for streaming and digital purchase here:-



If you're in the UK, They Were None is distributed via Plastic Head here - http://www.plastichead.com/HEROD.

Herod Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/HerodNoise
Mighty Music Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/mightymusic666

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