Heshbeard – Tranquility Base EP …   Leave a comment

Heshbeard are a heavy psychedelic doom band from Portland which is the doom capital of the northwest in many respects as the quality of bands that come from the region are usually far better than anything from Washington State, no offense to my fellow Washington Staters! The band includes members of Doomsower and I believe the great Hookerfight so if that isn’t a quality line-up, I don’t know what is. They have recorded a 4 track EP titled “Tranquility Base” but don’t expect another trad-doom or sludge-metal band, Heshbeard are different again from the band members other outfits they play in. When the opening guitar crunch of “Banditos” rips from the speakers, it is immediately infectious. This band is real catchy, more catchy than Doomsower with a more serious mid-tempo groove. The vocals of Justin keep the Doomsower musical connection alive but that is where it ends. The faster tempo shifts of Heshbeard are something you don’t hear in Doomsower so this really shows another side to their playing abilities. Of course, there is still heavy, sinister doom riffage which is crushing in the pure Maryland stoner-doom style. Part Saint Vitus, The Obsessed and Place Of Skulls, Heshbeard have their influences in the right place and who knows if they are their influences, all I know is that is the vibe I get from these songs.

“Banditos” is a fantastic opening track that has pulverizing mid tempo chugging, sinister doom riffing and infectious head-banging attitude that is hard to resist. Already this early into the EP, I start to think that this band may be even better than Doomsower as there is a different sort of quality in the performance and the songwriting, not necessarily better but more unique.  So lets investigate a bit further and move on to the second track, “El Camino Real.” Starting off with throbbing, humming bass and the sound of crashing, pounding drums, it sets up a doom-laden plodding blues groove that is very hypnotic. The churning repetitive guitar work is the perfect counter-balance here to Justin’s bong-hopping lyrics not there is any real weed-worship going on but the feeling is one of drug-induced psychedelia. Each section of this 8 minute plus journey has its own unique twist that builds another layer to the song and thus builds up the songs atmosphere at every turn. There is something mesmerizing about “El Camino Real” even though it is fairly simple – this is a gift some bands have – Sleep had it and now so does “Heshbeard,” it is that magical hidden element you can not put your finger on – a majestic force that makes this sound so fresh and vital.

“Meteor” is the next tune up and he we go again, more psychedelic doom ear-candy that keeps you intrigued. Starting with a bass line straight out of the cosmos and some very spaced out guitar sounds, this gets you floating off into the clouds of gas and dust of intergalactic space. Making this even more trippy is the sampled voice-over of Nasa / Astronauts transmissions which I must be honest I never pay too much attention to but it does add a another dimension to the already very psychedelic vibe. This  soundtrack of space-travel is kind of eerie in the way it captures that feeling of what it must be like being isolated in this tin-can they call a spaceship floating all alone in the heavens somewhere. The only other musical passage in my opinion to ever get this close to creating the atmosphere and solitude of space-travel was the instrumental passage in Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ so Heshbeard deserve major kudos for the fine ambience they create in this mesmerizing track, very well done. If that wasn’t enough, the band pull out all the stops for track four – “Pequod.”

This is a 16 minute monster of a song that kicks off with a couple of minutes of sparse guitar, slowly building up the atmosphere before the song kicks into gear with the vocals and a morbid, deathly slow riff at the around 4 minutes into the track. The painfully slow pace with an ever increasingly menacing vocal gets progressively more sinister and depressing till it hits a peak of funeralized dirge at the 11 minute mark. It comes to an abrupt stop and goes into a series of experimental sounds, band member banter and while it is an odd way to finish up the track, I kind of like it, very Pink Floydish. “Tranquility Base” is very much a surprise and Heshbeard is a band that deserves and needs to go forward, I know I use the word ‘potential’ a lot but I really mean it with this band. Great playing, good production and a warm, engaging atmosphere makes this irresistable. Write the name down on a sticky-note and stick  it close by, you must check out this band ASAP ……9/10
Heshbeard @ Facebook


Posted February 23, 2011 by doommantia in Heshbeard

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