HEIRS – Alchera CD (Denovali)
This Australian band shares some members of Whitehorse, who some of you might know from their double cd that came out on 20 Buck Spin a few years ago. With that in mind, you’d probably expect Heirs to traffic in a similiar brand of excruciating sludge, but they’re actually quite different, playing a brand of dark soaring instrumental rock mixed up with some Godflesh/Swans influences.
The first track “Plague Asphyx” opens with a wheezing industrial noise loop like rhythmic blasts of steam, as a pounding drumbeat kicks in alongside a massive droning bassline, soon joined by a queasy, trebly guitar lead and sheets of caustic noise. We’re talking total Godflesh territory here, a hypnotic industrial dirge with that booming heavy drumbeat repeated again and again, the tension slowly becoming cranked as more noise is fed in, and additional guitars are piled on top, no release in sight, until finally in the last minute a fucking devestating sludge riff drops in, immense and crushing, appearing for only a brief minute until the song closes out on another loop of static bursts. No vocals, no verse/chorus song structure, just a vicious machine-groove pummeling you for five minutes. Killer! But the next track switches gears completely. Opening with a delicate guitar melody, “Mockery” unfurls softly layered post-rock prettiness over a slow, throbbing drumbeat, while streaks of distorted and delayed guitar fly overhead. Sounds a lot like Red Sparowes with its cinematic grandeur and evocative guitars and motorik drums, but after a while the guitars begin to become more distorted, and heavier, and swirling electronic fx and noise begins to envelop the song, and halfway in it morphs abruptly into plodding sludge for a minute or two before returning to the epic layered guitars, before once again sliding into total doom at the end, a super-heavy sludge riff surrounded by the ever-present textured noise and pyres of smoldering amp feedback.
“Cabal” starts off similiarly to the previous track with more moody, somber guitar melody woven into gorgeous counterpoint effect, and when the rhythm section enter this time, their playing is definitley heavier, the bass thick and distorted, the drums loud and pounding. The song winds slowly over the course of the track, building to a climactic finale where the guitars erupt into a wall of sound, finally flaring out and leaving just a single acoustic strummed guitar.
“Mandril” takes on a darker hue, with simple, repetitive drums and looping, Slinty guitars locked in an angular groove over billowing synth drones, then kicks into a huge droning riff with almost mechanical drums throbbing underneath it, like a fast-paced Neurosis riff looped over and over and blanketed with ominous industrial drones, or a more tribal Godflesh. That’s followed by “The White Swell”, one of the prettiest tracks on here. Again, the band creates a dark, mysterious vibe out of slow moving instrumental post rock, though this one is slower and more languid than the rest, with some beautiful melodic playing and an almost folky feel that reminds me of Neil Young, especially when one of the guitarists comes in with a moving emotive solo halfway in. Kinda feels like some of the newer Earth stuff too, I suppose, but with a jazzier, heavier feel.
And then the last song, “Russia”, opening weirdly with the bleeping melody of some electronic toy and the tinkling of a door chime before the band blasts in with a super catchy, wall-of-guitar melody, that plays out for a minute before fading off into space, replaced by whispers and murky guitar notes stretched out over crackling feedback and rumbling drones, an abstract dronescape building in volume and thickness while the guitar slowly gets more distorted, eventually turning into a massive jet-engine roar of distortion and guitar noise.
This stuff is beautiful and weighty, a cool fusion of contempo cinematic rock and industrial dirge and metallic ambience collected together into an ambitious whole that’s highly recommended to fans of Red Sparowes, Hand Of Fatima, Disappearer, Windmills By The Ocean, etc. Comes in a cool looking gatefold jacket with spot varnish printing and a full color insert.
From Crucial Blast Records
Heirs – Alchera LP (2009, Exo Records)
When reviewing an album like Alchera – or any record, really – it’s best to avoid hyperbole. Suggesting that this record is near-flawless or that Heirs might well be the best instru-metal band ever to have sprung forth from the arid soil of this continent smacks of lazy journalism. Or worse, insincere hype-making. But it’s difficult not to heap such lavish praise upon Alchera. It really is that good.
The record opens with bursts of sharply panning static, which eventually give way to the hefty, lurching rhythm and dissonant guitar squall of ‘Plague Asphyx’. Like Swans, Heirs use repetition as an end in itself: the cyclic pattern of drums become an almost never-ending mantra.
The Red Sparowes-esque ‘Mockery’ proves that, in the right hands, the traditional post-rock build-up can still be used to devastating effect. At nearly 10 minutes, it’s in no hurry to prove its point, making the eventual payoff all the sweeter. ‘Cabal’ is slower and darker, slowly shifting from a bleak acoustic strum (reminiscent to some extent of the folk-noir of Neurosis’s A Sun That Never Sets album) to an ever-intensifying wash of cymbals and distortion.
There’s another hint of Swans (their Children of God album, in particular) on the muted bass and minimal percussion of ‘Mandril’, which about halfway through is suddenly assaulted by a punishing, Godflesh-esque rhythm. ‘The White Swell’ is the least belligerent piece here, never reaching the ear-splitting heights of its cohorts. Its relative calm, however, is countered by closer ‘Russia’, which starts in high gear and just gets more intense. Even as the guitars fade out and are replaced by an abstract low-end rumble, their ghosts still linger in a form that will probably amount to permanent hearing loss.
While the basic formula remains the same here – almost without exception, the songs on Alchera start quiet and end deafeningly loud – Heirs create variation through their innovative use of texture and rhythm. They eschew cliched arpeggios and jock-rock power chords in favour of a more intelligent approach. You have heard bands like Heirs before, but probably not many as good as them.
by Adam D Mills – Mess & Noise
HEIRS – Alchera CD (Denovali)
Aussie post-rockers show a flair for creativity.
Looking for some great atmospheric stuff but are tired of the elitist attitude of record labels? If so, Australia’s HEIRS is interested in making your day just a tad bleaker. Sure, anybody with a guitar and an amplifier can hold a note for over two minutes and call it drone doom, but it takes exceptional talent to compose an album of lengthy instrumental rock tracks and keep listeners tuned in for the whole duration. And with influences ranging from SWANS to EARTH to GODFLESH to NEUROSIS, there’s far more song variety than one would expect, each track offering something different from the last.
We begin our journey with the static minimalism of “Plague Asphyx,” a thick, black brushstroke of a track that will have listeners expecting Michael Gira to pop out any second complaining to his mommy about how his body is dirty or something to that effect. Next, the 9-plus minute “Mockery,” which has all the thickness and harmony as anything Scott Kelly and the boys would make, makes it instantly clear that this is a band with (double gasp!) technical skill! Tracks three and four showcase the blissful marriage of acoustic guitars and tribal rhythms (it’s fitting, then, that this band started as a solo project for drummer Damien Coward). Where “Cabal” is subdued and dreamlike, “Mandril” is more intensely focused. Just to keep listeners on their toes, though, “The White Swell” has a stark contrast of loud percussive pops and soft, clean guitar harmonies. Finally, these guys turn convention on its head with “Russia,” as an early bombastic crescendo slopes off into a grueling whimper to close the album.
And we all thought that everything had been done in the whole drone/post-rock field. Turns out that hype and elitism isn’t nearly as important as just plain doing what you do and doing it well. So long as these cats haven’t burned themselves out on their first album, we could in the not-too-distant future see a new set of faces sitting on the throne of instrumental rock.
by Cardona – Peacedogman
And here is a live review of our first show in Melbourne back in March
HEIRS – The Old Bar (19 March 2009)
Stumbling into the Old Bar late and already drunk, the first sound I hear is a slow, concrete slab heavy grinding, a metallic clang like somebody is pushing one of the bar’s gigantic electric fans into a bucket of rusty nails repeatedly. But the pub is not being demolished just yet; this is the sound of Heirs, and it’s coming from the stage.
Damian Coward, the drummer, drags the beat like a ball and chain, while Laura Bradford churns up the mud of the deepest cesspool in repetitive determination with her low-frequency bass string mutilations. Guitarist number one, Brent Stegeman, picks a seemingly random chord over and over, while guitarist number two, Ian Jackson, is hunched over his instrument with his back to the audience, building a squalling noise at an agonisingly slow pace.
Like a self-destructing machine, Heirs grind out this Metallic K.O. of sound. It’s hardcore as imagined by slugs on tranquilisers, a hymn to dissolution and slow death. But whereas doom metal bands shroud their music in walls of impenetrable fuzz and hyperactive drums, Heirs start with a clean guitar sound and distinct notes, and build the crawling chaos bit by bit. Eventually their sonic sculptures unfold Rhys Chatham-like and time slows to a snail’s pace
The only comparisons I can come up with are the best works of Flipper and early Swans, but where Michael Gira and co employed a deliberate brutalism to bludgeon their audience into submission, Heirs’ music is like the blank, blind stare of a desperate insomniac at 5am.
There is a hallucinatory beauty in Heirs’ terror, but it is the beauty of infinitely stretched time, the interminable intervals between seconds, and the desire for oblivion echoing through a vacant mind.
Truly fucking awesome!
by René Schaefer