For Heroes of the Kingdom, patience is a virtue: The quartet is in no hurry to blaze through these songs and instead chooses to let the full-bore guitar chords clash together and resolve in time. Most of these eleven songs sport a slow, sludgy tempo and a respect for the sonic space created by the alternating discord and unison of interwoven guitar lines. But where sludge normally implies the haze of stoner rock or the effect-pedal-colored dreamscapes of shoegaze, much about HOTK is crystal clear: The guitars are not buried under layers of fuzz, and singer Chris Powell (also of Ring, Cicada) has a high, piercing voice that, at times, recalls Rush's Geddy Lee without all those vocal tics. When put together, the group's components create something both amorphous and powerful. On "Die with Your Boots On," echo-laden guitar lines snake and circle around one another as Powell's double-tracked vocals create an audible tension.
But the sense of patience that the band carries can be trying on the patience of the listener — too many of these songs run together without distinction, using similar tempos and redundant guitar dynamics time after time. The jaunty handclaps and bright tambourine splashes that come at the coda of "Stomp" signal a welcome change of tempo; too bad it gets tucked away at the end of an overstuffed nine-minute ballad. "Disasterol" injects some urgency toward the album's end, and the song shows that Heroes of the Kingdom can create a little excitement without drastically altering the moody, stop/start dramatics that the band does so well.
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