Review Summary: Slow and steady post rock that hits more than it misses.
The peak of The Heritage
, the debut album from UK slowcore/post rock act Her Name is Calla, comes early and hard. It comes in the form of a brilliant climax, where everything explodes in a cataclysmic release of tension, giving a delicious payoff following 6 minutes of apprehensive drone and increasingly unnerving vocals courtesy of Tom Morris. It’s got everything a great post rock apex needs: pounding drums, sneering overtones of feedback, apocalyptic strings, all smashing together to form a crescendo worthy of- mother of all post rock comparisons- Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The noise blends beautifully and swells in an ever more furious frenzy until finally it stops, leaving behind a wake of cocked eyebrows and grins and the potential for a new top act in post rock, praise be to God.
The song this stellar moment belongs to is called “New England,” and the reason this review starts off singing its praises is because the rest of The Heritage
runs in reaction to it. The lone track before “New England” sets the tone of uneasiness, dropping the hint that something grand is imminent, and the songs after “New England” feel like the equivalent to the peace after a massive hurricane, the final tremors after a terrible earthquake. It makes The Heritage
a damn curious listen, as Her Name Is Calla perform their grandest trick early in their act, leaving the rest of the record feeling like an epilogue to a conclusion long since past. But if The Heritage
proves anything, it’s that Her Name is Calla can write a damn fine epilogue.
is loaded equally with sweet, relaxing material and sad/eerie/unsettling tunes, which despite making the record feel mildly disjointed, provides ample opportunities for Her Name Is Calla to prove their worth as an up and coming act. For example, directly following “New England” is the beautifully lush “Paying for Your Funeral,” which, in direct opposition to its predecessor, achieves its glory with isolated piano noodling in major and what sounds like the ocean rolling in the background. It’s a heart-breaking instrumental, and the coupling of it with brother track “Wren” provide the album with a gorgeous extended interlude. The latter track features Morris’ best vocal performance on the record, as the layers of harmonies shine until the growing fury that is the song’s finale. “Wren” and “Paying for Your Funeral” are the tracks that exude the most talent on The Heritage
, as they serve both to redraw the listener in after the intensity of “New England” and to connect point A to point B, meanwhile accidentally winding up being the most subtly enjoyable tracks on The Heritage
This leaves the rest of The Heritage
to feel like overkill. Whereas the first four songs all serve a purpose and are overall strong tunes, “Mother***er, It’s Alive and it’s Bleeding!” the albums second loudest track, is as obnoxious as its title would suggest. It starts off sweetly enough, as the opening three fourths of the track swell beautifully with melancholy keyboards, treble heavy guitars, and another strong vocal performance from Morris, but its climax, an unbelievably overdone chanting of ”THIS IS PUNISHMENT!”
reminiscent of Erfim Menuck circa 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons
, isn’t climactic at all, just a full on indulgence in the pretention Her Name is Calla had so adeptly avoided up till this point. The momentum built up by the opening quartet is killed off abruptly, and The Heritage
can’t recover, despite the sublime finale of “Rebirth”. “Mother***er…” provides the perfect opposite of “New England,” showing how one moment can kill an album as skillfully as another moment can give it life.
So where does this leave Her Name Is Calla? As a still underground group, Her Name Is Calla has plenty of potential, and The Heritage
shows that. Simply put, the pacing is just off. By putting their loudest climax so early in their record, Her Name Is Calla leave expectations for another huge explosion never delivered on, and it leaved The Heritage
feeling mildly disappointing. “New England” could have worked immaculately if flipped with “Mother***er…” But that’s a minor quibble. The bottom line is that The Heritage
is an enjoyable body of music from start to middle, and nearly becomes ace as a full record. The only problem with Her Name Is Calla is that like so many other post rock acts, they haven’t really found their niche yet. Still, unlike so many other post rock acts, they have the songs to make themselves an interesting group to keep an eye on.