Review: “Empires Of Ash” by Heron

Heron is pleased to announce our third full length offering, Empires of Ash. Empires of Ash is an ode to impermanence and was created in the aftermath of the long, lonely hours of isolation. The album contains sweeping and melancholy post-metal sections intertwined with crushing doom and acidic sludge. Thank you for staring into the void with us.” ~ Heron

Recorded, Mixed and Mastered in June 2022 at LRS Studios, New Westminster, BC with long time sound engineer Michael Kraushaar, “Empires Of Ash” finds Sludge Metal monsters Heron at record number six. Having spent the past seven years or so touring with the likes of High On Fire, Conan, Pallbearer and Primitive Man, the four veterans of the Canadian independent music scene have conjured an offering from the darkness of emotion brought about through an expected series of events as the World descended into madness for a while…

While the album may list only five cuts it offers just over 36 minutes of new material from the band who have issued a quartet of cuts to compilation albums since their last full length “Time Immemorial” in 2020, so there is absolutely no need to feel short changed on this one. A dark and brooding affair from the very start of “Rust and Rot“, it finds vocalist Jamie offering up the kind of scathing vocals that make Robert Meadows (A Life Once Lost, Mind Power) appealing, especially when coupled with the haunting and dramatic atmospheres the effortlessly band conjure. After a brutal Sludge fuelled introduction, the tensions are built with slow, drawn out feedback laden textures that approach Doom Metal as the emotions of troubled thought spill on the page. A shoegazing introduction brings “The Middle Distance” to life like the warmth of dawns new day for an insomniac before building the mountain once more with luscious Post-Metal leanings. The transition between the serene calm into the darkness is as seamless and graceful as that of an Olympic diver hitting the water before the midtempo crush second half takes hold, the vocals cathartically tearing flesh from bone.

Hauntology” follows in a similarly enthralling vein, building a captivating sense of vastness as plays out like the soundscape of a film score before the vocals snapping you out of its meditative trance at the half way point like a slap across the face. Their harrowing tale of bitter anguish commanding and harsh despite the melancholic backdrop and yet fitting together like a hand in a glove on a cold winters day. Shorter and more direct “Hungry Ghosts” flirts with Stoner Metal riffs as it shows off the influence of Entombed on the band in flashes of distorted fuzz while losing none of the records previous momentum and in so doing creates something for riff worshippers to die for. Perhaps its the guitar tone but reasons unknown the riffs of “With Dead Eyes” remind of those from “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters as if deconstructed as far as deconstruction could go. The track itself a fitting finale to an album that oozes Sludge Metal appeal while having a diverse range of styles as the band push the boundaries of what they consider to be the confines of their sound [7.5/10]

Track Listing

  1. Rust and Rot
  2. The Middle Distance
  3. Hauntology
  4. Hungry Ghosts
  5. With Dead Eyes

Empires of Ash” by Heron is out 2nd December 2022 via Sludgelord Records and is available over at bandcamp.

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