Seattle post-hardcore/sludge outfit HEIRESS will host a Gimme Metal guest DJ special this Wednesday, January 26th, at 1:00pm EST / 10:00am PST. Visit www.gimmemetal.com and join the band in the live chat!
HEIRESS released their Distant Fires full-length last month via Satanik Royalty Records. The record was recorded at MRX in the SODO district of Seattle in November 2019. Scott Evans (Kowloon Walled City, Yautja, Floor) lent his recording and engineering skills to the album, giving it a big, natural, roomy sound well-suited to HEIRESS’ organic approach and tone-obsessive timbre. The album was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege in Portland. Though steeped in despair, Distant Fires is a slow-burner of an album that reveals a new dimension of its power with each listen.
At some point we’ve all yearned for that signal from the future; a marker from someone further down the trail indicating that hope looms on the horizon. It’s an especially prescient image in our current tumultuous times, but for anyone taking the road less travelled, it’s an even more profound visual. When Seattle’s brooding metallic quartet HEIRESS bestowed the title of Distant Fires on their fourth full-length, the world hadn’t yet succumbed to a pandemic and the full scope of our nation’s descent into political paranoia hadn’t yet gone mainstream. The title wasn’t a comment on current events; it was a personal plea for guidance. Across Distant Fires‘ eight tracks, that desperate search takes the shape of glacial riffs, pensive and exploratory melodies, monolithic dirges, and expansive swaths of forlorn atmosphere.
HEIRESS has forged their own path since 2006, ever since guitarist Wes Reed set out on his vision to concoct bleak, dynamic, forward-thinking, hardcore-informed metal. Longtime friend Justin Martinez took on drum duties and scene veteran John Pettibone (Undertow, Himsa) assumed the role of frontman. With this core unit, HEIRESS shuffled through various auxiliary members and released a slew of EPs, splits, and studio albums. The band’s prior label affiliations speak to their stylistic breadth — metallic hardcore stalwarts Deathwish Inc. issued their debut album Early Frost (2012) while defunct post-rock outlet The Mylene Sheath released their last two albums Of Great Sorrow (2015) and Made Wrong (2016). Always difficult to pin down or pigeonhole, HEIRESS’ stylistic fluidity allowed them to share the stage with bands like Eyehategod, Cave In, Integrity, Hot Water Music, Voivod, and 40 Watt Sun. Or as Reed puts it, “we’re all used to being the heaviest band on a lighter bill, or the lightest band on a heavier bill.”
For Distant Fires, the band eschewed the dueling guitar attack of Made Wrong and reduced their ranks to a quartet. With Mat Houot holding down bass duties, HEIRESS streamlined their instrumentation to make the songs more focused and the overall sound less dense. Reed is quick to point out that this new configuration also means odd notes and progressions are left intentionally unresolved, and unexpectedly simple riffs remain much more stark and unadorned. It all serves to highlight one of the many dynamic contrasts of HEIRESS — a capacity for both brutish simplicity and mind-bending savvy. On Distant Fires, you’ll hear a Slint-like use of negative space and austerity. You’ll hear Neurosis-like end-of-days low-end bombardments. You’ll hear Unwound-like crooked melodies. And yet it never comes across like a pastiche or an identity crisis. Rather, it sounds like four musicians who devoted the last thirty years to mail-ordering records and going to shows.
“…a crushing dose of punk-infused sludge metal that should appeal to fans of Neurosis, High On Fire, early Mastodon, etc.” – BrooklynVegan
“…amid its impressive dynamism, it is still consistently oppressive and bleak.” – Distorted Sound
“HEIRESS shows great musicality in writing lighter parts among the heft of the overall record… a uniquely strong record…” – No Echo
“Distant Fires masterfully pushes the sonic envelope beyond logical boundaries through a mix of exacting tone-crafting and raw emotion. Flitting between massive, chunky riffs and strange unsettling cleaner portions, Distant Fires defies usual expectations around what ‘dynamics’ should signify in heavy music, all in the name of getting across particularly heartfelt and despairing sentiments.” — Invisible Oranges
“…their finest work to date. This is a focused, cohesive record from a band who’ve clearly spent a long time honing their craft. It may not make for the most uplifting listen, but if there is any justice in the world it should at least elevate HEIRESS onto the radars of anyone looking for forward-thinking music made with genuine heart and passion.” — Distorted Sound
“Every single track has its own eccentric sound that shows off the group’s musical chops and endlessly captivates the listener… Distant Fires is another exceptional release from HEIRESS.” — MXDWN
“HEIRESS’ might is on full display on Distant Fires, a record that is a huge, relentless storm hanging over your head, refusing to let you give up on your search. Trying to find signs of hope off in the distance has become a fool’s game of late and surviving despite all of that has devolved into a game. This music pays off that hopelessness and despair as we cling to whatever we have left, hoping one day that beacon will show itself, and our tense chest muscles finally can relax.” — Meat Mead Metal