Heaven on Howitzers – “Hum “I” Eternally at the Heart of the Universe”

Hum "I" Eternally at the Heart of the Universe cover art

Artist Heaven on Howitzers
Album ‘Hum “I” Eternally at the Heart of the Universe’
Genre Post-rock / Instrumental
Buy/DL Bandcamp
Web Facebook
Label Independent
Release Jan 7 2013
Rating Very Good

Heaven on Howitzers are a 3-piece post-rock band from Minneapolis, MN who kicked off 2013 by releasing their debut album ‘Hum “I” Eternally at the Hearts of the Universe’. Interesting enough, the band actually released this album on cassette in addition to on their bandcamp page. Bringing back the cassette tape? I can get behind that movement. Sorry to my fellow audiophiles, but I have nothing but good memories growing up with my Sony Walkman listening to The Batman Soundtrack, Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ and TLC’s ‘Crazy Sexy Cool’ in the back of the school bus to the jealousy of all the other kids who were forced to listen to the bus driver’s country radio station every morning and afternoon.

Well, now that we’ve traveled down memory lane, let’s get back to the album at hand. Fans of heavily distorted post-rock should fall in love with this release as it is bursting at the seams with darkly distorted tones. The influence from Godspeed You! Black Emperor is definitely noticeable and while I hate to compare two relatively smaller regional bands to one another, I simply can’t overlook the direct similarities between Heaven on Howitzers and Seattle-based X-Suns.

‘Hum “I” Eternally at the Heart of the Universe’ is a very busy album despite clocking in just over 32 minutes. Those 32 minutes are split across 10 tracks, with only two of those tracks being longer than five minutes long. This is very uncharacteristic of a post-rock band but the band makes it work by having all of the songs sort of flow into one another so the album feels somewhat like one long track. Still though, I find myself often wishing that tracks like “Conch Pistol” and “Sway Honey” were just a couple of minutes longer. The tracks are ripe with character but generally end just as you began to drift away within the atmospheric distortion and backgrounds chalked full of spiraling crescendo guitar work.

Undoubtedly my favorite track on the album is the nearly 6-minute long “Crunch Feather”, where the band’s talent and song-writing abilities really shines through. With most of the songs being so short, it’s really tough to get an idea of what the band is truly made of. This track shows us that the band is capable of writing excellent sustained post-rock tracks at the typical length you’d come to expect a straight forward post-rock song to be. It should also be mentioned that the two-part “Great Hills” series that bookend the album are also prime examples of the band’s talent shining through.

Aside from the short tracks, my only other gripe with the album that is on rare occasions the drums feel a tad too artificial and generic. This is a very minor gripe and the guitar work and tones more than make up for it. ‘Hum…’ is a great starting point for a young band who’s upside is relatively bright. They band has distanced their sound far enough from the standard crescendo-core sound that their tracks are memorable even after just a few listens. In a genre where it’s easy to forget the names of bands once you hit the “shuffle” button, Heaven on Howitzers is a band that certainly stands out, and that’s one of the best characteristics a young band could have.