Monday, March 25, 2013

The Black Heart Rebellion: Har Nevo (2013)

Bloody as Bloodiest

The Black Heart Rebellion is a Belgian band who combine a lot of different things I love—things I’ve heard many times before—into something I’ve definitely never heard before.

Har Nevo, the band’s second full-length, is one of those records that touches on many things metal while ultimately skirting the genre. There are elements of Tool, Isis, and Neurosis. There's also a strong presence of Wovenhand-style folk. The effect of this hybrid metallic post-rock/dark Americana is quite similar to Bloodiest. I could pick out the various discrete threads of those inferred influences, like the occasional Wovenhand banjo or the Primordial screams, but that would do it a disservice. It can’t be reduced to any simple equation based on those elements.

It starts with the insane, breathless “Avraham.” Wind chimes give way to a buzzing bassline, tribal drums, ominous guitars, and mad vocals. Any one of these elements would be enough to make the band worthwhile, because throughout the 42 minute they each have their own engaging role to play. But of particular note are the percussion and vocals. The vocals range from whispers to singing to Alan Averill roar; the percussion (drums, rattling chains, etc.) is powerful and varied enough to stand on its own without melody.

The band’s intensity is constant; even their most mellow, droning moments (“Circe”) are like hearing the stare of a caged animal. When they let it all out it’s almost overwhelming (“The Woods I Run From”). Speaking of dynamics, they’ve mastered so much more than just the soft/hard and quiet/loud that Isis perfected. They have dynamics of tone, dynamics of speed, dynamics of rhythm, dynamics even of simultaneous or consecutive contrast. Unraveling this tapestry could take years, but it’s better to simply be absorbed.

Given the list of things I compare to The Black Heart Rebellion, and how dear bands like Isis and Wovenhand are to me, I may be more inclined than others to gush over this. It’s exactly the right record for me right now. Yet I feel quite confident in saying it’s brilliant, and will certainly be remembered not only at year’s end, but at the end of the decade.

The Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars

P.S. I predict Tool will take TBHR on the road.

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