By Jamila Pomeroy
Stepping into the jam space of Vancouver doom metal band Heron, there is laughter, talk of album art by macabre artist Cryptworm, and a slight skunky haze. This atmosphere is beyond fitting for a genre which is often visually represented with dark psychedelic art and imagery of cannabis culture. While the four-piece has been prominent in the scene, their forthcoming release, A Low Winter Sun, will be their first full-length album.
A Low Winter Sun is not your typical doom metal album, as the band has incorporated elements of thrash, sludge, and post-metal into their sound. The band recorded the album locally at Rain City Recorders, with producer Jesse Gander (3 Inches of Blood, Bison BC, White Lung).
“We’ve been building on this record for about two years now, explains vocalist Jamie Stilborn. “It’s not a concept album, but we’ve tried playing the songs in different orders and it fucks us up. It just feels right to be played and listened to in the order [that the songs] are in.”
Stilborn tends to write lyrics centered on esoteric and existential concepts with inspiration drawn from film and philosophy, tackling heavy subjects with optimism and positivity. This approach perhaps sets them apart from many bands in the doom metal scene, who often drift lyrically towards dark themes with nihilistic viewpoints. While their music never features clean vocals, Stilborn aims to use vocals as an instrument of their own. Sonically their heavy, bass-driven sound blends beautifully with their spacey and unconventional song structures, sounding comparatively to bands like Sleep and YOB. This is some serious melt your face off music.
Heron has shared the stage with big names in doom and sludge metal, including High on Fire and Pallbearer.
“I think that was probably my biggest accomplishment, opening for High on Fire,” says guitarist Scott Bartlett. “I’m a huge fan of Matt Pike, High on Fire, and Sleep, so it was pretty incredible.
The band acknowledges there is a deep sense of community and connection within the doom scene, in comparison to other sub-genres of metal. Heron emphasize their excitement in continuing to play with the bands they have connected with, spanning across the country and down the West Coast.
“There is a really good vibe happening right now with the band,” says Bartlett. “We keep pushing forward. That’s really the bottom line for us. As long as we are having fun and making good music, I think we are doing things right.”
Heron play the Astoria on April 17.3 Inches of Blood, a low winter sun, bison bc, cryptworm, Heron, High on Fire, jamie stillborn, jesse gander, matt pike, Metal, post metal, Rain City Recorders, scott bartlett, Sleep, White Lung