Friday 15 November 2019

The Heartland - The Stars Outnumber The Dead (Repress)

Labels: Creep Records/Wax Vessel
Formats: CD/Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 29 May 07/21 June 2019


1. The Goddess Did Not Produce A Shadow
2. The Blue Period
3. I'm Not Wearing A Belt To NY
4. Ms. Elanious
5. You And Me, Were Monsters
6. Tackle The Monster
7. $150 Worth Of Tarantulas
8. It's Your Haunted Chair...You Drag It
9. If We Take This Any Slower, We'll Have To Speed Up To Stop
10. The Coliseum

I write this knowing that I've still got to begin writing my full-length feature on the resurgence of Myspace Grind etc. In between writing my review of Wax Vessel's first repress, "The Dead Sleep Like Us For A Reason" by Destroyer Destroyer and this, I've received both LPs in the post and I couldn't be happier. The Heartland repress that I ordered came on clear vinyl with a red centreburst and black splatter, foil stamped (I got number 47). It also came on a red/black swirl as well. Limited to 200 copies, with 15 test presses and 4 special band-only copies. It all started in 2006 for The Heartland with "Two American Kids Growing Up" before "The Stars Outnumber The Dead"  in 2007 and they followed it with "Frontier" in 2009. That's all I know, so if there was any other music, please let me know.

This is exactly what the doctor ordered! Intense and technical grind/metal with all kinds of everything going on. The Goddess Did Not Produce A Shadow kicks things off in fast and loose styles with crazy riffs, ever-changing percussion and a hazy mix of low and high-pitched vocal growls. Things don’t get any more sensible on The Blue Period, which has a disturbing hint of deathcore to it, before The Heartland’s experimentation puts pay to that. 

There’s a subtle simplicity to I’m Not Wearing A Belt To NY given the madness of the opening duo, but what it’s lack in full-throttle heaviness it makes up for in creativity and clever song-writing. Heck, there’s even an indie-like passage with clean singing and danceable melody. The Heartland certainly wasn’t a one-trick pony, that’s for sure. The off-kilter jazz-like riffs are back on Ms. Elanious, which includes some of the best musical phrasing I’ve heard since I realised Myspace grind was a thing. I like traditional grind but this has something more (feel free to call me a heathen if you want to!). 

If you think that grind is all about thirty-second songs as well, you’d be wrong as The Heartland demonstrates. You And Me, Were Monsters breaches the five-minute mark (like Ms. Elanious before it) and it starts with melodic guitar that Fleetwood Mac would be proud of. It’s instrumental and it splits up the album well, even if people may be yearning for the momentum to carry on. Tackle The Monster gives a huge dose of Southern flair, as if they’d got into bed with Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster or something. They don’t go redneck on you though and still manage to create a song that’s both emotive and fun. 

$150 Worth Of Tarantulas isn’t quite as terrifying as it’s name would suggest, though it is pretty insane for all the right reasons. I had never heard of The Heartland before this repress, but I love discovering obscure bands whether they’re old or new, so this is right up my alley. Hopefully you’ll agree too. For some reason It’s Your Haunted Chair…You Drag It reminds me of my office. Don’t know why, but it might be due to the unpredictability of the song. It’s only short but it’s more than enough.

If that previous number was short, then If We Take This Any Slower, We’ll Have To Speed Up To Stop goes by in the blink of an eye (almost). Album closer The Coliseum starts with the laid-back approach you’d expect. You get another instrumental that’s moody and emotive, just as You And Me, Were Monsters was. It rounds out a record that’s a really varied listen, certainly more-so than I was expecting. It’s awesome that people and labels want to unearth bands like The Heartland. Bringing them to the attention of people who might’ve never of heard them is a great thing, for both the band and the music as a whole. 

You can stream "The Stars Outnumber The Dead" and purchase a super cheap digital download from Pattern Recognition Records (which helped to distribute this repress) below:-

The LP versions are completely sold out.

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