Blue Heron‘s music literally sounds like it has been around forever, and the band have simply hewn it from the sonic rock surrounding their Albuquerque base that we may all enjoy what they themselves absorb as part of their very essence. Desert rock – the best desert rock, anyway – always has a tectonic feel to it, but for some reason there’s a particularly adamantine feel to grooves purveyed by this rather special quartet.
It’s not that they sound old in a ‘hackneyed’ sense – though obviously there’s more of a whiff of the usual suspects here on tracks like the epic Sayonara and pummelling closer Salvage – but rather it’ s the timeless feel afforded by the oldness that gives the riffs and grooves of music like Infinition Field and glorious opener Futurola real stature and substance.
If you’re not paying attention properly, the subdued intro to Infinition Field might lad you to believe you’ve stumbled across never-before-heard Wishbone Ash music – not a usual desert rock reference point, I’ll grant you – which is nice as it points to a band happy to drift where the music takes them, rather than striving to fit everything into one easy-to-digest generic box.
But this mixture of the familiar and the slightly surprising , built around the grim-faced riffage of Mike Chavez in tandem with the top draw four string work of Steve Schmidlapp and laid back yet hard-hitting drum approach of Ricardo Sanchez, wouldn’t be half as effective as it is were it no for the quite remarkable vocal presence of Jadd Shickler, a man who can take his place amongst the best hard rock throats America has to offer right now on the evidence of his performance here. An incendiary combination of Chris Cornell and, somewhat surprisingly, sometime Quiet Riot vocalist Paul Shortino (or, perhaps more famously, Duke Fame of Spinal Tap renown), Shickler turns what might cruelly be termed ‘base metal’ into gold every time he opens his word hole. Heavy metal alchemy? possibly, but you might just prefer to call it damn fine singing.
Whatever you call it, it’s bloody good, good enough indeed to appeal beyond the stoner rock ghetto and ensnare rock-friendly normals with it’s charms. And as we all know – when you harness stadium metal to underground sincerity and ‘realness’ – that way lies gold…
Ephemeral releases on May 27th.