Heritage, the album released today by five-piece downtempo deathcore band Distant, is the band’s third album, and the second with their current line up – joined by Jan Mato on drums and Eise Smit on guitar in 2020. While their second album Aeons Of Oblivion showed what the band was capable of, especially on the four-part “Ritual,” an almost deathcore suite, Heritage is the band at their full power.
While the band is legendary for the brutality of their music, the opening track “Acid Rain” is almost beautifully melodic with an undercurrent of doom, like a fairy tale that starts with a welcoming path in the forest but portends darkness buried deep in the woods.
That darkness erupts on “Paradigm Shift,” and if a paradigm shift is a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions, then the song represents that for the band. Building off of “Acid Rain,” the track announces the band’s new direction, like their first two albums were the hunt, and now with Heritage, they’re here for blood.
The third track, “Born of Blood,” builds slowly, propelled by guitarists Vladimir Golic and Nouri Yetgin’s twin-assault pulverizing riffs. In the background of the song, though, is a swirling rhythm pulling the listener upwards with the song. Alec Grnja’s vocals seem to swirl throughout the song’s vortex before casting you out of the apex into the ether.
The centerpiece of the album is “Agent Justice,” a seven-minute epic that sounds like the score for an cult-classic horror film. The video for the song sees the band performing live, trapped behind a staticy red and black color palette, like you’re seeing it on a channel you’re not meant to watch, and the band is fighting through the static to the surface. While everyone shines on the track, Jon Mato’s blast beats are so relentless that it is astounding to realize a human being is capable of maintaining such a persistent beat. The song is a rollercoaster, taking you to its very peaks and then dropping you, screaming face-first into an almost-calming piano interlude that only gives to another sharp climb. Grnja’s vocals threaten to tear you in half as they run at you full force.
Tracks such as “A Sentence to Suffer” and “Human Scum” are played at such furious intensity that you can feel blood dripping from the tracks, with each member of the band going hard on both songs. The one-two punch of closing tracks “Orphan of Blight” and “Plaguebreeder” both start with the same kind of haunting, almost orchestral sound that then pulls you down sharply into an audio demolition derby, throwing you around and around until the merciless conclusion.
For a band that describes their own sound as “bone-crushing, thick-as concrete heaviness,” Heritage might as well be a hydraulic compactor, the kind that could pancake a military vehicle. The band has never sounded tighter and more in tune with each other than ever before. Grnja’s vocals are intense, working in conjunction with Golic and Yetgin’s guitars – which would be intense enough on their own, but combined with Elmer Maurit’s steady basslines and Mato’s blast beats, they are out to destroy everything in their path. Distant is at the forefront of European deathcore for a reason, and Heritage moves them firmly to the top of the mountain .Heritage was released on February 10th on all platforms, with physical copies available on Distant’s website, including a badass limited edition Heritage vinyl pressing on marbled white and red smoke – with only 500 copies available.
Be sure to catch the band when they play The Underground in Mesa on March 13th, along with Bodysnatcher, AngelMaker, and PALEFACE (CH).
More tour dates here.