September 1st, 2010
Genre: Avant-garde Black Metal/Ambient/Experimental
So it's no secret that I'm extremely lazy and have been slacking majorly on requests. I'm slowly sifting through the backlog at the moment while catching up on other releases that interest me, but in terms of requests lets start with this quirky and mysterious record from Night Heir.
I passed over this record several times. I've given it several runs so far but I still think I have yet to grasp what it captures within its winding and bizarre depths. It's one of those records (indeed bands) that escapes genre classification despite it clearly housing multiple familiar genres such as black metal, ambient, pysch-folk, progressive metal, etc. — I want to compare it to something like Wreck And Reference, Mamaleek or Bad Life but that won't do either. It makes for a difficult review, and it is best you give it a listen yourself in order to draw from it what I cannot in the short amount of spins I've given it. Throughout ten tracks Wind... gives a refreshing and dark take on what it means to be progressive and edgy in an underground scene that is continuously contorting into and out of strange new soundscapes.
From the opening track you get the impression you'll be experiencing something folky and calm, but as you move forward into it's core set of tracks you're greeted with some unexpected and genuinely intriguing styles and flavors. Of course there are intermittent bouts of this subtle ambience sprinkled throughout, however a lot of the album has a more turbulent nature. It can be a little jarring for the average listener, just hitting that line of inaccessibility but backing off of purposeful alienation just for the sake of it. There is a plan and it is sincere and gripping. Wind... is ripe with quality and unique writing, that is for certain, and you must push forward to fully grasp and digest what Night Heir present within its deep folds.
It is once you encounter "The Night Heir" that the black metal aspect is revealed, glorious and atmospheric in ways you would not expect. But truly I became convinced and most impressed once I hit "No Sympathy For Demanding Idols" which is extremely catchy while at the same time foreign, stimulating. It contains a very groovy set of rhythms and riffs that ebb back and fourth hypnotically while a droning set of vocals (clean and bleak in tone) caress the listener's ears. It has elements of black metal but quite unlike what I've encountered elsewhere. This continues into "Indigo Woman" which as some really heavy, satisfying moments (as does "Böcklin", the track that follows). These four songs flow together as if they were one track while having very different personalities.
If ever there was something one could call dynamic or progressive or "avant-garde" without becoming convoluted and pretentious this is it, and all tracks from this one forward retain this quality, though not trapped in one style. The latter half of Wind... becomes more mellow, heavy, slow and experimental within it's own realm of peculiarity as it sheds it's originally more blackened coil ("I Seek Myself / I See Myself" are good examples of this). The evolution into this valley is just barely noticeable and once you arrive it feels very natural.
Occasionally clangs of bells, clashing of rattles, and swells of synths/keys tasetfully accompany the eerie vocals, which as mentioned are often clean but sway back into more harsh blackened tones; though not pained and screeching as one might assume. Desperate and howling fits better. The drumming runs the gamut of styles and yet it always feels appropriate while the bass is at the forefront, sliding and bouncing hypnotically. The structure of the riffs move effortlessly between weighty chunks, hazy chords, proggy riffs, and tight tremolos that weave themselves into surprising areas. Heavy but not doomy, dreamy but not shoegazy. Most of the time the songs stay short but still contain so much without becoming crowded or convoluted. This enigmatic two piece manages to create meaningful, atmospheric and articulate songs, escaping tropes one might expect.
I can certainly recommend those of you who are adventurous, looking for something refreshing, to look into this record. It's fairly impressive. There really isn't much out there that you could comfortably compare Night Heir to. It's best you give it a shot yourself as I'm unable to do justice to what has been offered here. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. You can download it for free on their bandcamp page where you can also order a copy of the album in cassette format if you're so inclined for $3 (I did, it's quite nice). You can also follow their blog for updates on their activities.