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Heathen Rites – Heritage

Heathen Rites
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 08 August 2021, 7:14 AM

HEATHEN RITES is a doom metal band formed in 2018 by Michael Monks of BURNING SAVIOURS.  I am not familiar with this band so this is my first exposure to Mr. Monks music. “Heritage,” has seven tracks and a run time of thirty five minutes so it is a short but rewarding ride.  A large amount of variety is present across the album, an eclectic ride that shows just how much variety can work with doom.

Eternal Sleep,” begins with clean but dark tones.  The overall sound here is somewhat old school especially with those monstrous riffs that come out around the forty-five second mark. CANDLEMASS comparisons wouldn’t be wrong, if that gives you the idea of the size and scope of the track.  The vocals are clean and smooth but with a slight echo, which definitely ups the classic vibe.

The album takes a different approach on the second track, “Midnight Sun,” with more of a Gothic tone to the music but a modern approach not unlike SWALLOW THE SUN.  Although the clean notes are soon joined by extremely thick riffs and bass, I like how those notes linger around as a perfect backdrop. The vocals are further away in the mix this time, sounding like the last gasps of some ethereal force trying to reach the other side.  This song is definitely more sullen and introspective than the opener but they both show off the many sides of the band and album.

Autumn,” digs deep with the bass which sounds like it has crawled out of a swamp.  Despite the sludge approach to the bass, the subtle usage of melody mixes well with the song’s overall package.    While the beginning is massive and lumbering, the later half is more methodical and open. More surprises continue to pop up across the album such as the violin on the beautiful song “Gleipner,” which is more folk influenced than the previous tracks.  It even has some death growls for yet another twist in the development.

My complaints about the album are few and small.  The last track, “Kulning,” is nothing more than filler.  I’m sure it means something to Michael, he wrote it after all, but for the listener it is a nearly two minute song that could have given its time for something better.  It is also oddly placed…it seems more like an intro to the album rather than the last track.

In addition, some of the track placements seem a little off.  The last proper track, “The Sons Of The North,” is a fine song to be sure but it doesn’t feel like an epic send off that one of the other tracks could have nailed down.  This track and the one before it are the two shortest songs on here, not counting “Kulning,” so having the songs start out long and shrink down in their time makes the end result fill slightly rushed. These are minor complaints and they may not bother most people.  I’m just a picky reviewer because, well, I have to be.  That’s my job.

Still, both that song and “Here Comes The Night,” are welcome additions because they once again switch up the album’s formula. Both tracks are more stoner doom oriented with a sort of rock and roll feel to them, especially the soul filled guitar solos. “Heritage,” is a strong debut album with a lot of ideas and pulls every one of them off.  I’ve no doubt the band will only continue to get better.  I am eagerly looking forward to the next release and other fans of doom should join me as well.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Eternal Sleep
2. Midnight Sun
3. Autumn
4. Gleipner
5. Here Comes The Night
6. The Sons Of The North
7. Kulning
Michael Monks – Everything
Record Label: Svart Records


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