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Herod may think that the future of humanity is grim, but this band’s future is bright. Sombre Dessein, the progressive sludge outfit's first new album since 2014, is scheduled for release later this month via Pelagic Records. The new record tackles the heady concept that humankind is at the end of our current civilization cycle -- and Herod’s latest single “Fork Tongue” contains all the bludgeoning ferocity you might expect from an album about our imminent destruction. It’s the first proper track on Sombre Dessein and it leaves no question about the direction of the rest of the album. Enjoy an exclusive stream of it below.

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“Fork Tongue” comes out of the gate swinging with mammoth Meshuggahian riffs before settling into an absolutely crushing groove reminiscent of the long-forgotten group Admiral Angry. The intensity of this passage is thrilling: it has the energy and simplicity of hardcore without dipping its toes into any more core-relevant cliches. Understanding the importance of pacing, Herod’s rhythm section gives listeners a brief moment of reprieve before returning full force with more grooving eight-string riffage. As a bonus, the track also features a guitar solo by Bill Steer of Carcass.

The emphasis on well-paced songwriting crops up consistently throughout the rest of the track (and Sombre Dessein as a whole, especially its lengthier tracks). Big, low riffs are great, but they need balance in order to maintain power. Vocalist and guitarist Mike Pilat, formerly of The Ocean, displays equal balance by interspersing tasteful clean vocals that add emotion and honesty without feeling out of place. Also, there is a heavy djent influence on “Fork Tongue,” but what keeps the track refreshing is its production: the guitars have that rubber band bounce but aren’t over-polished. Herod feels believably organic and that is what makes their message of impending doom so effective..

-- Chris Butler

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Sombre Dessein releases February 15 via Pelagic Records. Stream another track from the new album over on Bandcamp.

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