Heir - Au peuple de l'abîme - (8/10)
Published on October 10, 2017
Heir is a French five piece that formed in 2015 that has previously released an EP and a split with In Cauda Venenum and Spectrale, though the band hasn’t seemed to garner much attention over the past two years. French label, Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions moved the band over from its imprint label, Emanations, who released the split, to the label proper for the release of their debut full length, Au Peuple de l’Abîme. It’s a destructively brilliant blending of styles, firmly rooted in the grand traditions of the French black metal scene, yet with a thunderous voice all its own.
Though the album carries with it a propensity for crushingly weighty passages and introspective wandering, it would be a stretch to consider Heir a stereotypical example of French black metal. Sure, the scene’s hallmarks of blazing, black metal riffing, monstrous walls of rampant percussion, and deep, cavernous growls are there, but Heir brings the almost whimsical, post-black metal of recent years into sharp focus. Even with this penchant for delving into flowing post-black metal, and the passing keyboard background, the rhythm section tends to fire away offering at these moments, yielding a brief glimpse of melody amid a near-constant rain of hellfire. There are a few sections that rein in the destruction, in favor of staggering groove and minor key melody, like the closing track, but these moments stand in defiant contrast to the rest of the album.
The overabundance of post-black metal bands in recent years has certainly soured my taste for the style, yet Heir is able to weave these influences into their sound without losing their virility. Honestly, Heir is able to provide an endless gauntlet of fiery riffing that is blistering and technically proficient. It makes those moments of slow-burning, post-infused music that much more poignant, being surrounded by bursts of frenetic metal. Though the members have yet to be associated with any other acts in the scene, their songwriting and delivery is rather mature and seasoned in scope; this isn’t just some hackneyed noodling or blast and destroy type album.
Au Peuple de l’Abîme has certainly been one of the biggest surprises I’ve stumbled across this year. Heir takes the fire and fury of the modern French black metal scene and adds a healthy dose of wandering post-black metal for good measure. Imagine, if you will, the likes of Aosoth or Merrimack crossed with just a dash of White Ward. Heir have given themselves a fine foundation, so it will be exciting to see where these guys go from here.