BY STEVE WALKER | Go Venue Magazine – October 18, 2018
Genre: Alt-Metal, Metalcore, Hard Rock
Heart of Jordan and their self-titled debut release on Aeonic Records has kicked opened the door for this Michigan based alt-metal/metalcore band so that they can enter the arena.
Together for about a year prior to release, the band have clearly worked hard to accomplish an album release of this quality that shows drive and determination to get here so quickly. The band have achieved synergy in their output that equals and rivals others in the current alt-metal and hard rock stables. Passion and emotional energy in each track is pronounced, and the amplification of real life emotion is a key feature of the release.
The vocal is present and has variance, it is rhythmically sweet in places and is reminiscent of Howard Jones from Killswitch Engine with hints of James Hetfield from Metallica. The vocal distortion used on the album is in places an unnecessary dynamic that only adds to crowd please and meet commercial trends. Authentic hard rock takes no prisoners, adapts and delivers with no apology. This is the ongoing transition that Heart of Jordan should confront as they continue in future releases.
There is a Trivium style feel to much of the material and this is not a bad thing, and for comparison, it may be worth looking at “In Waves” (2011) to see how the influence for Heart of Jordan has enabled them to apply every standard in the genre to their own material. All the formulaic elements required in the scene are in place and where they should be. The stand out feature of this album is the high level production value that has afforded the balance of heavier ultra-fast riffing to reduced speeds to highlight and allow connection to the lyrical content. Driving rhythms are successfully timed and delivered to raise the profile of the instrumental talents in the collective artistry. The tuning has been dropped to enable the speed of grind and hyper-guitaring, it may be worth in future releases for the band to add tracks with some standard tuning, this could create an interesting dynamic and wider scope. The vocal would be responsive to melodic full-bodied chords and offer a vulnerability that could be used to create resonance in the softer moments .
The vocal and structured backing harmonies/doubled vocal to create harmonies is good. A technique that has been developed is the placement and blend of two prominent instruments or components at any one time. The staging in each of the track sequences has this sectional focus in each verse, pre-chorus, chorus and bridge. This sequencing allows the audience access and grasp and is a credible, subtle and effective strategy that Heart of Jordan have applied. An effective example is shown on the “Schizo” in the verse and chorus sequences.
The double bass peddled drums are used with enough energy and vigor to ensure the output remains solid, played as a riff dynamic in some tracks which is impressive and interesting and can be heard on “Throne Alone” the opening track on the album.
The nature of the material leads the genre choice for Heart of Jordan, and this is to offer reason and purpose to establish the emotional weight of the themes. The jagged outpouring of sadness, anger, confusion, pain and so on, has not been “suggested”, it has been powerfully represented as raw primal emotion that is forced forwards with boundless energy. You will find no disguise, no limit to the way it feels – this feature of Heart of Jordan in my opinion is the most honest element that the band have. There is nothing held back in the delivery, you can feel it inside, they talk hard and rock hard.
Straight Outta Jordan
In discussion with Go Venue Magazine, the band identify the collective focus of the album tracks. “Our songs speak of lost love, lingering hate, constant turmoil, and tribulations of the human condition.” This album is more than just raw energy, volume and aggression, there is a point to the material that is delivered with a level of sincerity. Universal themes have been unleashed to allow the poison and venom of human feelings to be seen and quite clearly heard.
When asked about motivation and influence and how this works in relation to the material; “Each member has their own unique influences, spanning genres and decades. But we all meet in the middle at metal. Our sound is rooted in the sounds of the metalcore pioneers, with varying dashes of alt and hard rock throughout each song.” From the first listen, you can hear this, there are a wide base of influences that congregate in the rehearsal room and allow the metal tree to grow from strong rooted foundations. Heart of Jordan should be credited for the position they have adopted and how they have established themselves.
So; what is all the shouting about? What is the focus that the band want to deliver? “The primary message we want to portray to the world through our music is: Whatever challenges life brings you, however life brings you down, you are not alone.” If there is a fundamental reason to raise the bar on a band´s worth, it is their reasoning and validity in the scene. This response from Heart of Jordan is a clear next level stance on how intrinsic sub-cultural themes of commonality exist beyond it´s own borders. As a brand of “messaging” through music, the point is about connection and this occurs in every musical genre. Examples of direct cultural connection where it ´just works´ are; NWA, The Smiths, Metallica and now Heart of Jordan. The way that each aspect of the creative element has been forged together to elicit meaning is both stand out and has a glimmer of brilliance.
Stand Out Tracks:
“Deny” – The opening on this track does something new, the anger and passion is founded upon honest words of upset of relationships lost. The moment the true words come out, unfiltered and unedited; a scream of passion. As a single release to compliment the album, “Deny” embodies the tools and primal scream that shreds into a pounding rhythm that offer a heart in distress. There is some impressive staging in this track, the echo out of the chorus offering futility, the differential in verse and machine gun drumming that is captured and imitated by guitars and bass to drive the denial home.
Listen to “Deny” HERE.
“Enslaved” – This track has offered a bespoke compression of 1987 metal arrangement to 2018 alt-metalcore diversity. The galloping rhythm and octave separating guitars works impressively to divide a pathway for the vocal. The later stage of the track descends into a contemporary rage that has been stitched together well and shows ability alongside the influences across various generations that have been prominently displayed and developed to create nuance and depth.
Heart of Jordan is a must listen to those that have an interest in the genre. There is technical artistry here that makes no attempt to stay in the darkness and is steady enough to scream the truth. It will be interesting to see the live output from the band to compare their ability and to use some of the studio techniques in the arena. The album is about realities, truths and perspectives delivered with a primal yet human scream. There are far too many others in the genre that produce tracks about fantasy and obscure themes for mere commercial success. For Heart of Jordan however, this is real life emotion that has been carved into the heart of an album, a heart that is burning, enraged and on fire. This is impressive, and the album is well worth a listen.
- Throne Alone
- No Escape
- Your Vengeance
- Deaf Ears
- Echoes Still Remain
Band Members are:
Preston Mailand (vocals)
Eric TenEyck (guitar)
Elijah White (guitar)
Daniel Ray Fell Jr. (bass – former)
Andrew Everett (drums)