Playing to type, much? A Swedish metal act called Herod delivering an album built around the concept of ‘the end of our Judaeo-Christian and thermo-industrial civilisation’? Well, yes.
You get the impression that while depicting the agonies of everyday life for the millions in poverty or otherwise enduring hellish conditions to simply exist is source of endless rage, the idea of the end is something of a fantasy which would provide the pleasure of release from it all. Founder member and guitarist Pierre Carroz talks about how the album’s artwork and video clip are ‘made up from footage of “Shipbreakers”, people who dismantle huge container ships which end up mooring to die on Indian or Bangladeshi shores’, and about ‘abysses of the human consumption project, which turns out to be hell on earth for these people whose every day work involves constantly risking their lives to feed their families’.
A toxic world of pain, anguish, and relentless heavy grind demands music that articulates it. ‘Sombre Dessein’ – which translates as ‘Dark Purpose’ – is indeed dark and direct in its purpose, coming on as a full-throttle attack. Lunging stop/start riffs jar and jolt the senses and bludgeon hard.
But amidst the dingy guitars and snarling, guttural vocals, there are layers of intricacy, and even passages of a more melodic persuasion – none of which dilute the force of the delivery. The 10-minute colossus that is ‘Don’t Speak Last’ develops through an atmospheric post-metal instrumental intro before firing in with full fury.
One of the real strengths of ‘Sombre Dessein’ is its range, and the expansive guitarscapes provide a shifting dynamic that provides contrast and holds the interest for the duration.