Vancouver metal quartet, Heron, continue their mission as one of the last few saving graces who pursue to reconstruct the genre of sludge metal and what it has to offer. While their 2015’s self-titled and 2016’s “Fire Twin” EPs proved their prowess to embody a span of genres from doom metal assaults, to psych rock stopovers, and tormenting themes of decadence and fear, Heron continue to manifest these ideas carefully and thoughtfully with their sophomore studio album, “Time Immemorial.” Acting as somewhat of an expansion from 2018’s “A Low Winter’s Sun,” Heron have succeeded to reach an even grander crest – a group taken over by something startlingly nightmarish and empyrean all at once.
“Time Immemorial” begins like a horror sweep. With a canorous, quivering tone that quietly hangs in space, Heron instantly create a prophetic presence that summons snapshots of danger and desperation; you can’t help but wait for the worst. But while the band can hypnotize their listeners, they, too, can promptly break that atmosphere and pound them with their pictorial and jolting take on experimental metal.
“Time Immemorial” isn’t necessarily a surprise–that’s not a poke on any level, either. What makes the group’s new album a success is their continuous commitment to boost their already awe-inspiring efforts. From production quality to plain vocal manipulation, and the diversity that sums up these new songs, it is these types of small gauges that place the band in a sphere all their own. Our first taste was “Void Eater”, a confident song that cautiously flourishes with plodding builds and vocalist, Jamie’s (no last name given) unfaltering, guttural cries.
But while we can rely on Heron to produce near-perfect metal songs, they can change direction, offering something completely divergent. “Boiling Ancient Light,” the album’s centerpiece gem is a scaled-back, psych excursion, showing the band at their most contemplative. Albeit the piece eventually demonstrates more aggression and vehemence, Heron produce it quietly and with persuasion, something that they’ve been perfecting more and more over time.
Songs like the opening “Long in the Tooth” and closing “Endless” follow this trend. In all its enigmatic splendour, Heron paint images of sterling apprehension while “Death on the Malahat” pushes past traditional metal structure and opts for death doom passages that are accentuated by Jamie’s nefarious spout. But despite Heron’s ability to tackles contrasting styles and genres, their efforts never come off as anguish, in fact, the fluidity which flows through not just “Time Immemorial,” but their previous releases is incredibly admirable.
Heron’s blueprint is potent, but while “Time Immemorial” throws advancements throughout its tracks, the group never find themselves in void despite its slight uniformity. They’ve created another stunning collection of songs.