Emotion never sounded so volatile. Heavenly Blue express a grief-stricken intensity on their debut album, proving screamo’s relevance in a post-digital age.

Release date: April 12, 2024 | Secret Voice Records | Facebook | Bandcamp

It seems we are living through somewhat of a resurgence currently with a range of the more niche punk and  post-hardcore genres availing across popular steaming services like Spotify and Apple, and of course the more niche platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp, with an upsurge in tags for screamo, emoviolence, and Midwest emo cropping up more frequently. With a handful album releases garnering greater critical and commercial appeal in the past few months, like Frail Body’s Artificial Bouquet and Greyheaven’s Stereo Grief, it appears to have generated a strong ripple effect within a variety of online music communities that cater towards more unconventional and fringe hardcore and screamo communities, gaining more exposure and well-deserved recognition for several artists. Heavenly Blue are certainly a band that fits this description. The seven-piece Michigan based ensemble have spent time between developing their craft and touring with the likes of Touché Amoré and Venus Twins, their sound can best be described as a blend of harmony and dissonance, employing elements of screamo, emoviolence, and noise rock to their style. But to really encapsulate what Heavenly Blue aim to convey sonically is really a case of diving into their latest record We Have the Answer and accumulate various fragments of their sound to comprehend the complex inner workings of their musical craft.

The album opens with sheer volatility and conveys a consistent sense of urgency and emotion throughout its runtime. “Davos” is an excellent opener to get things into full swing, it highlights the dissonant sentimentality that shines within this album from its ruthless and distinctive vocal style and massive percussive influence on the mournful melodic guitar hooks and illusory ambient textures. The title track opens with a nasty punk-style bass lick that drives this short and snappy track into full gear; it seems alarming and unsettling in moments that also express anger and underlying angst. “Pando” pushes the boundaries into more angsty territory that allow the band to demonstrate their more emo-inspired leanings, there’s a seamless blend of tension and sentiment being shared between the sonic boundaries.

We get more of Heavenly Blue’s punk sensibilities next on “Glass So Clear”, resonated through razor-sharp guitar melodic lines and furious noise-plagued vocals. Lyrically, the song contains an emotive and societally deprecating edge in lines that challenge our post-human instincts within a digital consumer society; ‘there has to be more than these societal niceties, depleting intellectuality through a screen. Glass so clear that you can’t see the difference. There is also a sense of enhanced clarity between moments of musical complexity and minimalism imbued within the artistic process. Both musically and lyrically, ”Certain Distance” has you feeling a sense of self-deprecation and apprehension between the complex math rock-style breaks and simplistic rhythmic verse-chorus progressions whilst the in-articulation in the vocal lines simply below ‘On My Own’ like a distant siren. “Static Voice Speaks To Static Me” offers a more stripped-back approach that reveals the band’s influences that somewhat indicate a clear admiration for ’90s skramz/emo through pummelling riffs, fast-paced rhythmic development and amplified dynamism.

Remaining on the emotional emo nostalgia train, “…And Like That, A Year Had Passed” taps into personal grief that evokes themes of coping with tragedy as time passes but loved ones are no longer with us. There’s a cathartic embrace of crescendoing noise pummelling into the listeners ears and a sense of dread being contained in their heart, the feeling of sadness and the weight of emotional guilt being important thematic elements here. “A Part Of Me, A Part Of You” resonates like a forgotten love letter left in the remnants of someone’s dusty basement back in ’07. Containing chanted vocal lines in the chorus and climactic chordal phrases, it has both the potential to be an emo pop banger and an anger-fuelled statement of noise and resentment.

“Looming” pervades with a weight of perverse rage and dissent; the roaring intensity adds fuel to an already burning fire displayed through aggressive dissonance and a volatile breakdown of musical convention and expression. Showing their versatility and dynamic abilities, “Heat Death Parade” allows the band to articulate the sentiments of alienation, grief, and frustration through softer, eerie timbres that throw our senses into disrepute. These timbral shifts blend into the final track “All Of The Pieces Break” with fluidity leading to a final emotional climax generated by walls of noise and poignant harmonic clarity.

Needless to say, we are living in a modern renaissance where the marginal peripheries of emo, post-hardcore, and screamo are becoming more relevant in a digital listening age. Heavenly Blue is one of those bands that have been constantly developing their craft creating  complex and emotional musicianship tapping into the listeners consciousness never before realised or accessed on a broader level. We Have the Answer expresses some of the best that post-hardcore music has to offer, remaining on the cusps of the genre itself, this record truly deserves praise for its ability to capture the hardcore’s versatile nature communicating harmony and dissonance through a mixture of sonic intricacies and emotional extremity.

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