Of Great Sorrow

Written by: AP on 22/03/2015 11:45:35

Although Heiress was originally founded in 2006 by guitarist and sole original member Wes Reed, it was not until the band’s vocalist at the time, Adam Paysse, passed the torch to John Pettibone (revered for his role at the helm of Seattle, WA area outfits Himsa and Undertow) in 2008 that Reed’s brainchild began to prepare for take-off. Two years later Heiress was picked up by Jacob Bannon’s iconic Deathwish Inc. record label, which attached the quintet - completed at the time by guitarist Josh Freer, bassist Eric Severson & drummer Justin Martinez - to a split 7” with Narrows before unleashing their debut LP “Early Frost” upon the world in 2013. It was no coincidence, nor a mere promotional favour to associate Heiress with Narrows, as despite their obvious differences, the two bands both employ a forward thinking, fusionist approach to hardcore, which in Heiress’ case translates to a heavy influence from sludge and post-metal and delivers an evocative listening experience on this sophomore outing “Of Great Sorrow”.

Unless Coalesce ranks among the bands dearest to you however, there's a high chance that the slow, dissonant, six-minute dirge that is the eponymous opening track might prove too testing a proposition to encourage you to keep the disc spinning. It is dense and unforgiving, and stood against the rich melodies and atmospheres that start to manifest in the wake of "Held", almost seems like it was dropped in by accident. Without shying away from the dissonant and the abrasive, "Blading" goes on to show how invaluable to Heiress' overall expression it is to allow in the clean, the delicate, and the melancholy as well. By creating a seamless wave movement between sections of near-cacophony, and passages of somber, layered clean guitar that give the record's title a meaning, Heiress continuously challenge and intrigue the listener. The melodies here, and henceforth, are written to be revenant, substituting the absence of discernible hooks in Pettibone's tortured screams.

Indeed, as an album "Of Great Sorrow" derives its strength from juxtaposing two forms of weight: sonic and emotional; and as the minutes tick in, that balance becomes ever more refined. The evolution of "Hover" from crushing, sludge splattered doom to a soaring post-metal colossus reminiscent, at times, of Bombus' magnificent "Into the Fire", is executed with chilling elegance; just as the harmony of Reed and present guitarist Mark Holcomb's riffs and melodies in the progressively built "Lashings" leaves little to be desired. The latter then soundly segues into another indelible piece in "Silent Hooves", its dark, bellicose riff in the pre-chorus producing the most opportune moment for headbanging yet; and its euphonic crescendo setting the stage for the tranquil instrumental finale that is "Just Two Figures".

Thus, although deliverance is kept in chains for a sizable portion of the album, "Of Great Sorrow" manages the feat of being rather haunting - yet not in any traditional sense involving the contagious deployment of verse and chorus. No, the key here is to become intertwined with the darkness, malaise and subtle magnificence of Heiress' sonic cloth by overcoming the sluggish beginning (which admittedly prevents that sensation from being comprehensive). "Of Great Sorrow" certainly ranks among the more interesting records stacked in my review pile this year, so trust me: the eminence of the second half is worth the patience.

Download: Blading, Hover, Lashings, Silent Hooves
For the fans of: Botch, Coalesce, Narrows, Sumac
Listen: Facebook

Release date 10.02.2015
The Mylene Sheath

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