Heron – Empires of Ash

Heron – Empires of Ash
Sludgelord Records
Release date: 02/12/2022
Running time: 37:00
Review by: Alun Jones

“Empires of Ash” is the new album from Heron, and if you like the Sludge, this is gonna be one for you.  It’s the band’s third full length album, and you’ll know when you listen that there’s a whole mountain load of experience brewed up in this mighty concoction.  Experience, plus what seems like a lifetime’s worth of melancholy and frustration given voice through huge, expansive slabs of atmospheric thunder.

Starting with ‘Rust and Rot’, Heron take us on a 9 minute plus odyssey encompassing thudding drums and menacing guitar.  Vocals are guttural and brutal, the end result is a thrilling wade through a sludgey mire.  Contrast this to the second track, ‘The Middle Distance’: a sombre yet beautiful (yes, you read that right) epic, which only erupts into molten fury after the three-minute mark.  When the vocals come in, you’ll drop your pint.

‘Hauntology’ is another epic, and very aptly titled.  Eerie yet calm and pensive, till again it builds to an enthralling outburst.  ‘Hungry Ghosts’ is a more ruthless amalgamation of Conan with later period Danzig guitar flash.  The final track, ‘With Dead Eyes’ has a melodic entrance, and once more decimates with a powerful vocal.

Whether it’s Doom, Sludge, Post-Rock or any other shade of Metal, there’s a wide variety of styles and influences on this album.  I was lulled into a relaxed haze before being startled awake with fiery exultations on several occasions.  Heron have really gone all out with “Empires of Ash” to create a record that is unique and imaginative.

Ozzy had trouble with a heron.  He’d just had a new pond built on his farm, and one bird kept gorging on Oz’s expensive ornamental Koi carp.  One night, we decided to lay ambush and surprise the heron with a siren and a shotgun when it flew in at dawn for breakfast.  Bill Ward fell asleep, so we floated him out on the water on an inflatable raft, as he snored under the moonlight.  When the heron arrived, I sounded the siren, Oz fired his gun into the air and Bill woke up startled, then fell into the pond screaming “I can’t swim!”.  Oh, we did laugh.  The bird flew off, never to be seen again.  

01. Rust and Rot
02. The Middle Distance
03. Hauntology
04. Hungry Ghosts
05. With Dead Eyes


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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