Post-hardcore/metal bands are often distinguished by their ability to build evocative epics that bridge the gap between loud and soft—turning quiet reflections into crashing walls of sound. All well and good, but what's underlooked is bands that can go from loud to...louder. Being able to take already-heavy music and somehow turn it up to eleven requires thoughtful production at a minimum, but it also takes a certain kind of band with a certain quantity of disgruntled sludge running through their veins. Seattle's Heiress tap into that exact vein on their new album Distant Fires, which masterfully pushes the sonic envelope beyond logical boundaries through a mix of exacting tone-crafting and raw emotion. Flitting between massive, chunky riffs and strange unsettling cleaner portions, Distant Fires defies usual expectations around what 'dynamics' should signify in heavy music, all in the name of getting across particularly heartfelt and despairing sentiments. Stream it now with our full premiere:

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The album's certainly got quieter parts, but it's never that quiet: monstrous drum tones and blood-curdling screams add intensity to even the most introspective guitar passage. As the band wreaks havoc through mountainous, jarring progressions, they continuously find ways to take things to the next level. On "Beyond Devotion," which is perhaps one of the softer-sounding songs, they accomplish this by gradually, gradually introducing more and more aggression into the lamenting track before a poignant vocal phrase kicks off an unrelenting riff apocalypse: "it's not enough," and indeed, the stark contrast proves the band's point. At other points, like in the midst of "Unsettler," trading out chords for jangly fret noise is a heart-stopping shift in itself, leaving more space for each disturbing facet of vocalist John Pettibone's delivery to invade. If their command of volume and heaviness is what drives the knife into our guts, the tactical removal of said heaviness is what makes the wound fatal.

Though the full-bodied production doesn't hint at this, Distant Fires is actually somewhat of a simplification for Heiress: previous albums featured dual guitars and more of a focus on complex instrumentation, while Distant Fires has shifted down to one guitarist and refocused their songwriting to strategically take advantage of this. They've redoubled their intensity, allowing their breathtakingly direct post-hardcore to cut deep with clear intentions.

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Distant Fires releases December 3rd via Satanik Royalty.