American Heritage sounds, for better or worse, like a punch in the face. So, if you’ve been flailing about happier than an old-school thrasher upon discovering a time machine to 1986 over this resurgence of all things vaguely Swedish and entirely nasty – think Nails, Black Breath, Early Graves, The Secret, Trap Them, etc. – then prepare to carry on flailing. Sedentary is thick and nasty and (mostly) fast. It won’t change your musical world, but it may break a few bottles and lunge at your friends when you turn your back.
The overall tone of the album is also somewhat of a piece with that rather burly vein of thick, whiskey-soaked metal that is so in vogue currently, but where Howl, Black Tusk, Javelina, Black Cobra, and whoever else tend to use their razor blades to cut in gnarled slabs of sludged-down doom, American Heritage heaves the great brick of hardcore through the metaphorical drug mirror. Accordingly, the band tends to lose a bit of momentum when it slows down, as on “Vessels/Vassals,” so the faster tunes (“Sickening Rebellion,” “Slave By Force,” “Kiddie Pool of Baby Blood”) are the ones that go down as smooth as a pint of bitter next to a broken air conditioner in August.
“City Of God” is extremely reminiscent of Mastodon (like, Lifesblood-outtake reminiscent) with a bit more of a hardcore drive spackled with very fluid riffs and a stout yet nimble low-end. The riffing is nevertheless more heavy metal than hardcore punk or grindcore, and in that respect American Heritage isn’t necessarily plowing the same (arguably fertile) field as the recent records by Trap Them or KEN Mode. The vocals aren’t particularly notable, though they do tick all the right boxes with their combination of hoarse bellowing and vaguely-pitched hollering. They do put in a particularly vicious delivery on “Morbid Angle,” which helps spruce up the otherwise straightforward hardcore rhythms, while a neighborly chorus of “Get the fuck away from me!” crops up toward the end of the song. Won’t you come have a civilized glass of wine with me?, the song refuses to inquire politely.
“Chaotic Obliteration” eventually whips out some of the Southern-flavored licks that so enlivened Mastodon’s Leviathan, while the rest of the song cruises along with all the subtlety of a Camaro with its tail dragging from the weight of leaky jugs of moonshine and a stolen wall safe. Which is to say, it’s one of the album’s highlights. [Name-dropping decorum demands, by the way, that I mention that Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher guests on bass and a guitar solo in “Fetal Attraction,” with Sanford Parker and the dude from Black Cobra guesting elsewhere on bass.] While “Abduction Cruiser” is another slightly tepid of tempo tune, and therefore detracts from the juggernaut inertia built up by the previous few songs, closer “WWDHD” is a slow, moodier bruiser which actually works quite effectively, despite my previous slanders against the band’s dips into mid-paced grooves.
In the end, I’m not sure that there’s much that would propel Sedentary to the absolute top of my playlist too often, but I certainly see it slotting in to an occasional rotation when I’m in the mood for this raucous brew of hardcore, sludge, and straight-up metal miscegenation. Genres are dead; long live metal.