How many band members is too many? Yes, the nine members that comprise the Slipknot lineup is truly excessive. But when you have six members, including three guitarists, you have to be able to deliver something head and shoulders above the main line. Enter Herder, a six piece band from the Netherlands, with an attitude as raw as the music they make. With three musicians all holding six strings in their hands, they start to look more like Doug's Big Band than a thrashing stoner band. Worse than that, though, is the unfortunate choice of recording methods. While it is unclear if the studio they employed was built around tin cans and chicken wire, the final product as anything but professional in sound. Coated in a thick, impossible to get through layer of rattle and hum, "Doomed" may very well be a prom queen dressed in shit and vomit.
Throw caution to the wind, and subtlety to birds. As "Stab" begins, all of your hopes for something light and airy can be discarded, thanks to a distortion heavy mix of guitars and drums. Despite what the mix delivers, there is a fair amount of musicianship on display here, with some expertly played guitar riffs floating somewhere amongst the haze and feedback. The lead riff is catchy in its bending simplicity, despite being coated in an immeasurable number of distorted layers. The drumming remains responsible for the stomping back beat and little else, while an unrefined scream sits atop it all. The same applies to the second rack on the disc, the barely two minute "Slither." While the instrumental work here is far more defined than the previous track, the mix does little to help bolster the sound. Instead, it comes off sounding cluttered and overfull. The true shame of it is that when you break things down bit by bit, there are a lot of elements at play, and even more worthy pieces left unheard. The overall sound may be considered indicative of the style, but it fails to deliver a clean piece of work.
We've talked about it before; even talked it to death. Raw, refined, or a little of both, there is something to be said about production work that helps to elevate the music for which it is designed. A truly great band will manage to take whatever funds they have, and turn it into a must hear record, regardless of the recording process; even home studios have improved to the point of near professional quality. But when the recording process overwhelms the music itself, it can be a dangerous game to play. Whether it is too raw, and too touched up, it can take everything the band has worked for and throw it all to the dogs. For Herder, it is the lack of polish of any kind on the mix that takes what could be a solid EP, and drops in squarely into the "hard to swallow" pile. Sure, there are some highlights. But with the thick layer of feedback, distortion, and carelessness, it will take some real attention to detail to hear them.
Official Site - http://www.herderisharder.com
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/herderisharder