Heavy Winged are a sprawling North American trio made up of drummer Jed Bindeman, bassist Brady Sansone and guitarist Ryan Hebert. Over the last few years the band have released a cacophonous splatter of cassettes, vinyl and cdrs for Not Not Fun, Digitalis, Aurora Borealis and a handful of other esteemed imprints. Most of these have been mercilessly grimy signifiers of their buzzing free-rock style, and were recorded poorly to almost accentuate the harsh guitar tones and double-time blast beats. This latest jagged offering however is a rare beast in the Heavy Winged canon, offering a higher fidelity peek into their muddled world.
This time around the band escaped to a 'real' studio to record two slices of extended sludge rock, which come across as wider than ever thanks to some fresh recording techniques. Something like an unholy union between the sheet-noise of Yellow Swans and the blissful sub-harmonic transcendence of early Mogwai or Sonic Youth, 'Sunspotted' is an album that takes tried and tested sounds and bends them beyond recognition. Sure plenty of bands have made distorted, blurred, guitar noise before, but rarely with the conviction and wit of Heavy Winged. With their early explorations into doom and metal we find the band on a high, framing their high-octane jitter into something that could almost be mistaken for beautiful. Just as the aforementioned Yellow Swans took their sound from the outer reaches of noise to something, dare I say it, pretty, Heavy Winged have focused their three individual powers to come up with an album that revels in its depth and shimmering beauty.
It might take a few listens to reveal its layers but 'Sunspotted' is a challenging and rewarding listening experience. Standing at the top of the band's already estimable catalogue of albums and EPs, this album finds them at a key moment, a moment where they have found a balance between fidelity and grit, harmony and discord. Step in, turn it up and let yourself descend.