Distant - Heritage review
|Release date:||February 2023|
01. Acid Rain
02. Paradigm Shift
03. Born Of Blood
04. The Grief Manifest
06. Argent Justice [feat. Suicide Silence, Emmure, Abbie Falls, Acranius, Angelmaker, Bodysnatcher, Cabal, Carcosa, Crown Magnetar, Paleface, Ten56. & Worm Shepherd]
07. The Gnostic Uprising
08. A Sentence To Suffer
09. Human Scum
10. Heritage [feat. Will Ramos / Lorna Shore]
11. Orphan Of Blight
Long a genre whose appeal mostly eluded me, deathcore has really managed to gain my attention in the past few years courtesy of a group of bands with more grandiose ambitions, led by the likes of Shadow Of Intent and Lorna Shore. However, the experiences of seeing both of those bands live in the past year has done well to remind me that just because I like some new deathcore bands, I’ve not been fully converted.
As much as I enjoyed Shadow Of Intent’s performance last month, it was something of a trudge sitting through To The Grave, AngelMaker and Enterprise Earth before they reached the stage; with the possible exception of Enterprise Earth, I felt each band struggled to write much in the way of interesting songs around the inevitable onslaught of breakdowns. I had less issues with Cabal and Distant when they supported Lorna Shore last year, but I still remember their performances being something of a ‘too many breakdowns, too few hooks’ experience. Heritage was an opportunity for me to really sit with Distant’s music and ruminate on whether that initial assessment was unfair; having done so, I perhaps have slightly more appreciation for them, but still remain somewhat unconvinced.
One thing I will give the Dutch group credit for is coming up with a brief scene-setting introduction track that actually felt like it positively contributed to Heritage; the ominous noise and energetic electronic beats build the tension nicely for the first proper song, “Paradigm Shift”, which continues the use of electronica to begin with. One thing that also can’t be denied is that Distant are very capable of pumping out some solid riffs here, such as in “Exofilth”, a song that also features a very solid solo. I also appreciate the bursts of intensity in “The Gnostic Uprising”, along with some more eerie electronic/guitar sounds used on this track, as well as the muscly up-tempo groove of “A Sentence To Suffer”.
At the same time, this is a very breakdown/beatdown-heavy album, and there comes a point across the 12 tracks where a bit of variety would be appreciated. A lot of this record pounds along at a religiously mid-tempo pace, alternating between stompy ‘main’ riffs and slamming breakdowns without a clear motivation or direction within the song for shifting from the former to the latter; this is very evident for a song such as “Born Of Blood”. It’s as if they reach a point where they get bored of what they’re doing and decide that’s the point to pause for a moment to build into a breakdown. I also feel that the occasional use of symphonic elements in this album comes across as somewhat superficial when set against the ways in which bands such as Shadow Of Intent, Lorna Shore and Worm Shepherd are integrating these features; the more industrial, electronic and horror-oriented sound effects woven into certain tracks here serve as a more natural addition to the deathcore base.
Worm Shepherd is one 12 deathcore bands that is credited as a featured artist on “Argent Justice”, clearly the record’s centrepiece for both its expanded length and roster of guests; this song, along with the impending The Big Six project, feels like an exercise in excess on the personnel front that a cynic could suggest is used to mask a mediocrity on the songwriting front. Still, I do feel like “Argent Justice” is probably one of the better tracks on Heritage, with some variety in pace and style that is missing from large portions of the rest of the album, even if some of the piano parts feel a bit cheesy. The other song with a guest here is the title track, on which Lorna Shore’s Will Ramos appears; clearly the groups got on well enough during their 2022 tour. There’s a bit more intensity and fire to this song than some others here, but ultimately Ramos’ contribution feels fairly superficial, particularly with how much Alan Grnja already sounds like him.
Heritage is a very adequate album, but it’s also an incredibly safe one, and the end result is that full album listens with any degree of attention committed to it result in a real feeling of déjà vu before the record is over; there’s very little that stands out here as being particularly memorable, and there’s very little variation of the formula to help the strongest moments in making a firmer impression. Ultimately, Heritage proves that I can listen to Distant without real dislike, but I’m left with little motivation to spend more time engaging with the band.
||Written on 15.02.2023 by|
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