For Fans Of
Groove, space and intrigue. These are the closest three words one could come up with to describe ‘Heavy Hail’, the debut offering by New Zealand turned Melbourne quartet Gatherer. As described by the hhhhappy music blog, on the band’s Facebook page, the (now) locals are a group that dabble in “progressive rock, math rock, post rock, grunge, psychedelic, tiny bits of jazz and electronic influences.” This statement proves correct with the first proper cut, ‘Killer’. Coming straight out of the dark, fuzzy electronic introduction, the song falls immediately into a thundering, slow but addictive groove, which allows the vocals enough space to shine in the chorus. The icy, smooth croons float over a heavy, dark wall of sound that builds throughout the song.
‘The Machine’ further expands on the band’s appetite for groove, with the group’s skinsman pumping out a ‘Rosanna’- esque shuffle in 6/4 to carry the tune before descending into a straight 4/4 groove over a 6/4 chorus. This mix of time signatures is what creates the machine effect, with the motif of various different parts locking together. While the opening two tunes are slow bangers, ‘Coincidence’ presents itself as a cool jazz shuffle, not out of place on a Radiohead record. Cold synths set up the late-night club vibe, with a fuzzy, loud middle section raising the attention of the listener before sliding back into its seductive original feel.
Gatherer are not all about slow burners though. Personal favourite ‘Spaceman’ has an up tempo rhythm section with sultry pop undertones. The twiddly leads of the guitars over the rhythm section allow the song to live up to its name, creating a broad space-rock soundscape. This is particularly evident in the chorus, with a broad range of sounds transporting the listener into another world, full of colour and new discoveries. ‘Sensational Creations’ also keeps the tempo moving along, with its dirty three bar riff setting up an ethereal chorus with distant leads and haunting harmonies, showing off the talent Gatherer have for writing diverse songs. This is further revealed by rhythmical disco beats over some frantic guitar work in the bridge.
However, it is on ‘Keep Up’ where the band really shines as songwriters. The eight and a half minute epic begins with an ominous techno drum beat, providing a direction for the spooky lead lines. The song slowly builds at an unhurried, casual pace, before arriving at its climax at the five and a half minute mark, the big orchestral guitars allowing the song to soar with the vocals, before the tune slowly dies down again. It bares similarities to the Sound Awake era by Karnivool, all the while maintaining its own original flavour.
As ‘Heavy Hail‘ winds down, the heaviness continues with ‘High Five’ making sure listeners don’t doze off. The addition of more prominent keys parts adds an extra dimension to the verse, allowing it room to grow into the heavy, grungy chorus. The bridge reveals the more percussive sounds of the band, with the thundering stomp of the drums turning the scratchy, on edge, sounds of the bridge into a straight ahead march. ‘Little Grimm’ provides another taste of the heaviness in its verse before settling into a relaxed minimalist groove, while ‘Sabotaged’ rounds the album out by combining the similar rock vibes of ‘Spaceman’, with the slow grooves found elsewhere in the record, while also adding in subtle elements of folk. These elements combined make ‘Sabotaged’ the perfect closer to an extremely diverse record.
One of the challenges within this genre is that each song can sound too similar. Gatherer avoid this through their broad range of influences, creating an album that may not be for everyone, but will certainly please the open minded.
3. The Machine
7. Keep Up
8. Yeah Nah
9. Sensational Creations
10. High Fives
11. Little Grimm