Here we have 43 minutes of post-metal that takes a progressive sludge approach to its material.
Sombre Dessein contains a rich heaviness, replete with thick riffs and harsh, shouted vocals. It also benefits from layers of texture, ensuring that the music is never one dimensional or unsatisfying.
Variety is achieved through quality songwriting and a keen ear for the individual needs of each song. Interesting and inventive ideas and touches are used on each track, whether this is a section that does something none of the others on the album does, or a particularly enjoyable atypical riff or engaging moodscape.
Dynamic songwriting tools are frequently employed, as are moments of atmosphere and introspection. The post-metal build/release mechanic is something the band seem to have mastered, but thankfully don’t overuse. Heavy groove, aggressive polyrhythms, thundering percussion, and hardcore fury all make appearances. All are well-developed and structured within the band’s wide-ranging framework.
The singer’s harsh barks and ferocious screams are well-performed and work very well. He occasionally employs clean vocals for increased emotive effect, and these are used strategically and effectively.
The obvious way to describe this band would be as a combination of The Ocean and Cult of Luna, with some Neurosis and Meshuggah thrown in for good measure. Although accurate, Herod are very much their own band. This is heavy music that succeeds in combining aggression and atmosphere into emotive and engaging songs, seemingly with ease. Sombre Dessein is a treasure trove of dark delights.
Very highly recommended.