Apparently created by a core of one person who was then aided and abetted by multiple others, this band have crafted here a single 38-minute track named On the Tombstones. It has apparently been recorded live, with a structure enhanced by improvisation in places, which is probably why the music feels so vibrant, albeit in a bleak, nihilistic ways.
Across this song the music combines blackened funeral doom, noise rock, and drone, into a monolithic song that crafts an apocalyptic world out of filth and misery. The track builds tension and and atmosphere, while flowing from one anguished section to the next, heading for an ultimate catharsis in noisy redemption. The album is essentially split into two movements, with the first being slow and despondent blackened doom, and the second being dark mid-paced noise-rock. This is a simple interpretation of the music, of course, but serviceable enough as a rough description.
Repetition is used well, and the music can be rhythmically dense in places, even when playing colossally slow. Dark and unsettling, this is all about pace, mood, and texture. This is hypnotic and entrancing, and easily pulls the listener in with force and holds them there, also with no small amount of force.
The band use a multitude of different instruments and sounds across the piece, helping to add personality, character, and colour into the atmospheric world that they are building. Without these additional enhancements the music would no doubt still be compelling, but with them fully embedded into the fabric of the music, they further help differentiate Heathe from a number of other doom/drone acts that operate in similar dark unfriendly waters as these, (not that there are many of these).
The promo blurb says that this is for fans of Soldat Hans, Thou, Amenra, and Agrimonia, and I can see why, especially the first in the list. This is music that’s individual and intelligently wrought, captivating the listener from the very start, and only letting go as the album finishes and disappears into itself.
Dragged into Heathe’s world and nose pressed firmly into the apocalypse, On the Tombstones; the Symbols Engraved is an experience to be lived, rather than something frivolous to be pumped out at the gym or to be energised by before heading out for the night. This alone, regardless of the high quality levels of delivery and songwriting, mark this album out as something better than most. Of course, when you add in the fact that it does actually have high quality levels of delivery and songwriting…well, On the Tombstones; the Symbols Engraved really is something special.
Very highly recommended.