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Blue Heron - Ephemeral

Blue Heron
Ephemeral
by Mark Machlay at 15 June 2022, 5:41 AM

New Mexico’s BLUE HERON dropped their full-length debut album “Ephemeral” this past May, containing an interesting mix across eight tracks of stoner, doom, groove and all-around heavy rock. Hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico, BLUE HERON bring a heavy, fuzz-laden, desert rock sound that they have been cultivating since their formation in 2018. With first-hand knowledge of how harsh the desert can be, it fuels the music they create. Guitarist, Mike Chavez and vocalist Jadd Shickler have been busy on the stoner/doom metal scene in New Mexico since their beginning with SPIRITU since 2002. Unfortunately, they burned bright with their self-titled 6-track album and split with fellow sludge/doomers VILLAGE OF DEAD ROADS out of Pennsylvania but quickly called it quits after a European tour with CLUTCH, SPRITUAL BEGGARS, and DOZER. They even managed to land a compilation slot with ENTOMBED and MASTODON but could not keep things together.

As they were surrounded by endless horizons, they felt the spark of inspiration to fill the vastness of their desert surroundings with a much more massive volume than BLUE HERON’s two-song EP would have you believe. Self-released just last December, “Black Blood of the Earth/A Sunken Place” garnered them enough attention to also appear on Magnetic Records’ “Best of AC/DC \[Redux]”. Before this, they also released a live performance video of Black Blood of the Earth” of which they had to say, “Every new band has that song that comes together and it finally feels like you’re not searching for your sound anymore, and this was that song for us. It morphed and changed a bunch of times and runs the spectrum of what we do, from sludge on steroids to spacey melodies to a sick goddamn breakdown that we don’t ever get tired of. As a way to announce ourselves to the world, it’s pretty perfect, a massive, balls-out mini-epic straight from the New Mexico desert.” They were finally able to secure a record deal thanks to all this attention with Germany’s Kozmik Artifactz handling European distribution and Cleveland’s Seeing Red Records handling North American distribution.

For those who partake of the skunky herb variety, BLUE HERON are perfect for those long afternoons when you put on some music and simply turn into a vegetable, but if you’re looking for concise song structure and coherent themes, you may be disappointed in “Ephemeral”. It’s nice to see a band that experiments with the format though and there are certainly moments on the epic second track “Sayonara” where they segue into PINK FLOYD, art-rock, shoegaze type instrumental exploration but it honestly just seems like a stretched-out track with a wacky, dusty instrumental track tacked on in the second half. Where I feel the band plays best I feel is in the heavy, groove tracks like the opener “Futurola” and the fuzzy, drum technique-heavy “Push the Sky”, well deserving of having been released as a single. Later in the album is the slower, and heavier than normal groove of “Black Blood of the Earth” as the album starts to lull and the quieter, more atmospheric “The Buck”. They experiment once again with the instrumental “Where One Went Together”, sounding a bit like SABBATH’s “Planet Caravan” which is a nice breather before “Salvage” which is a nice desert, groovy closer but unfortunately suffers from maybe being a minute too long. Overall, “Ephemeral” is a nice ride through a dusty, lonesome environment and would benefit from sitting and just grooving rather than analyzing.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 5
Production: 9

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Futurola
2. Sayonara
3. Push the Sky
4. Infiniton Field
5. The Buck
6. Black Blood of the Earth
7. Where One Went Together
8. Salvage
Lineup:
Jadd Shickler - Vocals
Mike Chavez - Guitar
Steve Schmidlapp - Bass
Ricardo Sanchez - Drums
Record Label: Seeing Red Records
     


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