Grand Blue Heron - Hatch - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Grand Blue Heron - Hatch

by Steve Reynolds Rating:9 Release Date:2015-11-20

Grand Blue Heron are from Belgium. I thought long and hard why you would need to know this, then I realised that it was important to say that Belgium is currently packed with a rich and creative list of musicians who are steeped in a love of leftfield/underground music that we should be much more familiar with.

This lot are on a record label called Jezus Factory, which focuses mainly on Belgium bands, with a smattering of Dutch ones, as well as looking after the output of such artists as Mauro Pawlowski, Black Cassette and Creature With the Atom Brain.

Paul Lamont and Olivier Wychuyse formed Grand Blue Heron from the ashes of hardworking trio Hitch who’d they been playing with for over 10 years.  After adding a second guitarist and bass player they’ve finally glued the lot together to produce this their debut album ‘Hatch’.

Saturated in pristine dark musical sound-scapes the viscosity of their music is palpable from the opening barbs of ‘Call the shots’.  The driving post punk recalls early Joy Division but with an abrasive Gang Of Four anger attached to it such is its ferocity and belligerent guitar attack. Lamont’s thinly veiled vocal sits in the background at the start but as the track catches fire his fearsome barking tourniquet takes a stranglehold and punches through the skylight.

He continues his dark tirades on the muscular ‘Velvet Slap’ set to a ringing guitar and pounding drum pattern.  The arrangement takes on a roomy somewhat sinister outlook on the spoken word that is ‘Gay is the lord’.  It’s bleak, creepy and the pulsating bass complements Lamont’s Goth like delivery: “God is just like Disney….”.  If Bauhaus or the Chameleons were still around now this is the sort of record they would probably make.

‘Lip Sweat’ is out and out call and response yelping; ‘Tin Soldier’ rises from a phoenix with a maelstrom of a bulging riff and compact steely rhythm section to boot. But it’s the epic six minutes of ‘Drone Saint’ that really showcases the musical accomplishment that the band have in their respective lockers.  It’s a track of quiet and loud punctuated by Lamont’s funeral and tragically austere vocal.  It’s quite frankly fucking brilliant.

‘Capital’ is an album that encapsulates the mother of all hangovers. That feeling you get when you want to shut yourself away and wallow in your own self-pity, that’s what ‘Capital’ was created for and the angst that ‘Shout’ emits personifies this entirely.

The finale is aptly titled ‘Last Song’ and Lamont tells us: “This is the last song, I never write for you…”.  The brittle and terse guitar work twists its way around the drums and droning bass and encompasses all that is good about this album.

This is unflustered, no nonsense visceral music and the tactile feel it sends out seems like you can almost touch the band such is the power of their songs.  Grand Blue Heron are a band with no egos and ‘Capital’ is a stunningly powerful album and one that will appear in my top ten of 2015 for sure.

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