Drone/doom can be a tricky beast to try and review. The nature of the music is a repetitive crushing beat typically with minimal vocals. The key to being effective in this subgenre is either creating a specific atmosphere or sucking the listener into the band’s headspace. Herscher is a French trio trying to accomplish that very thing.
Somewhat of an odd duck in its own right, Herscher is comprised of a bassist, drummer, and keyboard player. Vocals are used sparingly and often delivered in a clean monotone with occasional dips into sludgy roars on tracks such as Apocatastase and Electric Path.
With the bass acting as the "lead guitar" you’re not going to get any flashy solos or intricate fretwork. It is, however, the highest instrument in the mix, and Roadie (a.k.a. Mathieu Bresle) lays down the expected rhythmic thunder. René Blacklisted (a.k.a. René Cheminat) seems competent on the drums, mostly favoring the snare and cymbal. Frankly, I could use a little more volume on the toms and bass drum.
Keyboardist Bud Ó Broin is a newer addition to the band, providing mostly electronic effects underneath the bass and drum lines. For the most part, these are kept way low in the mix and primarily designated to a supporting role, especially on the album’s first few tracks. Bud doesn’t assert himself until the final two tracks, Pétron and Bandana, where the keyboard begins adding some harmonics to the crushery we’ve been treated to up until this point.
Speaking of Bandana, as both the album closer and the shortest song on the album, it’s also the fastest, taking on more of a ’70s doom vibe than the typical drone/doom featured on the previous five tracks.
All things considered, I found Herscher an overall enjoyable listening experience. The songs have the crushing rhythm, but I wasn’t quite sucked into the band’s mindset. Some minor production quibbles on my part knock this down a bit as well.
Herscher is no Sunn O))) (but then again, who is?), but offers a lot of potential. For a young, unsigned band, they create some effective soundscapes, and I’ll be keeping an ear ready for their future releases to see how they evolve.
Available currently as a name-your-price download on Bandcamp.
Special thanks to Against PR for the complementary review copy.