Those who have followed Heiress over the years will know that progression has always been at the forefront of the band’s mind. Over the course of two EPs, a split with Narrows and two full-length albums, the Seattle quintet has never ceased in carving their own sonic path. Comprised of former members of Himsa, Undertow, Jough Dawn Baker and Harbinger, Heiress have made it a point to not be simply defined by their pedigree. Though the band stayed faithful to their chaotic hardcore/metal roots on their first few releases, it wasn’t until 2013’s Early Frost that the band really started coming into their own. The brooding hardcore was soon revamped with sludge adjacent bitterness, and the band welcomed post-metal grandiosity and ambient and atmospheric textures into the mix. This amalgam of styles and moods was further expanded on the 2015 album Of Great Sorrow; a devastating record that perfectly utilized the band’s penchant for murky heaviness and their desire to weave explorative, multifaceted musical passages. The 10-track opus was arguably the band’s most solid effort to date. But Heiress didn’t stop there. Even before Of Great Sorrow‘s official release, the band were already hard at work on its follow-up, which brings us to the present. Made Wrong, the band’s upcoming third full-length album, is the culmination of roughly 10 years of sonic exploration. These seven tracks show the band pushing further away from their hardcore roots into a realm of massive riffs, cavernous doom and icy melancholia; a realm where the band’s sound becomes harder and harder to classify.
The 42-minute excursion begins with the record’s shortest track, “Clearing”. Cold guitar chords cycle repeatedly as down-tuned sludge riffs stomp about grumpily overhead. After a brief wall of sound, the track explodes into climax of galloping hardcore that stampedes toward the end. All the while, vocalist John Pettibone unleashes his infamous, acidic snarl all over the track. “Clearing” is the only hardcore-oriented tune on the album, and seems a bit out of place when compared to the overall scope of the album, but is a solid song nonetheless. Made Wrong officially takes off on its second track, the somber “Remains”. Shimmering melodies intertwine with each other in a serpentine fashion as bass lines and tension-building drumming thump underneath. Eventually the track gives way to a collection of thunderous gloom that would make the doom gods smitten. The guitars churn out avalanche-inducing, metallic marches that lay waste to the entirety of the landscape. Menacing, icy guitars and lurching bass open up the nearly Neurosian “Lasts”. The track’s frostbitten intro bleeds into a procession of dissonant, hammering, sliding and twitching riffs and back again. The song employs this tension and release technique throughout. The band keep the listener on the edge of their seats with their rising and falling melodies, only to drop them into a pit of aural punishment. The album’s title track wastes no time pummeling the listener into dust. Lumbering doom riffs come crashing in right out of the gate and topple skyscrapers with each and every stomp. The track’s undoubtedly beautiful and serene post-rock verses offer listeners a brief breather from the doom vehemence before they dragged back into the band’s range of fire. The album ends on a quiet and reflective note with the nine-minute leviathan,”Endure”. The track crafts slow-burning, hovering melodies and airy ambiance throughout this lengthy track. The minimalist, post-rock sprawl wraps the listener in an auditory blanket of warmth and forces he or she into introspection. Pettibone’s rasp is clouded and pushed into the background, giving his vocals an almost specter-like presence. The hauntingly beautiful, gorgeously empty track brings the intense album to a calm and collected end.
10 years of reshaping and refining has yielded Heiress‘ magnum opus. With Made Wrong, the band have found the perfect devastating sound for them. The cantankerous sludge, the bitter doom, the moody melodies and chilling atmospheres, all come together in perfect harmony on these seven eclectic tracks. It’s simultaneously volcanic and reflective, bestial and tranquil. It’s this Seattle band’s crowning achievement and definitely raises the bar for future Heiress releases.
Release Date: March 17, 2016
Label: The Mylene Sheath
Favorite Tracks: “Remains”, “Skinning”, “Made Wrong” and “Endure”
For Fans Of: Neurosis, Himsa, Narrows and Starkweather