Some bands just manage to create a sound that encapsulates everything they set out to achieve. Hailing from the Groningen province in the Netherlands, Herder make music worthy of being a soundtrack to an apocalyptic tempest. In ‘Horror Vacui’ they have forged six tracks that are as nasty and as grimy as any in the sludge/doom genre.
From the moment ‘Intro’ commences with its garbled backwards samples and grinding, dirty bass, it is evident that the band have truly written something capable of being horrifying and yet beautiful at the same time.
Complimenting the dark, slow riffing and pounding drums are some of the most luscious lead guitar this reviewer has heard in a while as triple axemen JB, Marc and Jeron detonate some fantastic pyrotechnics.
This is a theme that continues all the way through the release, the crunch and muscle of the three are balanced by the monstrous rhythm section of Blizter on Bass and Tom on Drums, allowing the music to be both progressive and expansive, yet down right evil.
It would be easy with so many musicians in the mix for ‘Horror Vacui’ to be an overcrowded complicated mess, but fortunately Herder know how to craft songs with great dynamics and create space for the drums and bass to do their thing without being smothered; in giving the listener these stripped back moments it allows you to truly appreciate the great fret work, making this an album that is as heavy as a concrete rhino, yet extremely listenable.
Over this platform, singer Nico roars tales of despair in his throat scrapingly raw voice like a ringmaster at the end of the world, his voice alternating between snarling contempt and multi-layered herald of doom, drawing influence from the Occult and the pitiful exploits of humanity.
‘Horror Vacui’ is an extreme diverse and extremely capable album, whether they are ushering in a funeral march for humanity on tracks such as ‘Feet Eager to Run’ and the title track, which sees the band putting the Sabbath blueprint through a blender, or simply putting their heads down and kicking your face off on ‘Stoned to Death’. The extra little touches of vocal effects, samples and variety of pace makes this release more than just your typical Stoner/Doom affair; my one criticism of ‘Horror Vacui’ is that it is over in what feels like a flash. There are very few records I have heard in the past year that have left me wanting more, but this is definitely one of them.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden