The Roller – Wasted Heritage

By Kyle Harcott

With a penchant for thick riffs and songs that clock in no shorter than 6½ minutes, Austin’s The Roller channel an awful lotta goddamn racket, setting their sail on same black and murky waters as, say, Eyehategod or Sourvein. What sets them apart is their production and penchant for marauding, be-all/end-all riffs.

Wasted Heritage comprises four tracks produced and sequenced specifically for vinyl, so unsurprisingly it sounds especially good on the green marble vinyl Cyclopean’s pressed it on. The warm production here is top-notch, and that goes a long way to explaining the appeal of The Roller; finally, for once in a genre known for lesser production, all of those skull-splitting, gorgolithic hate riffs are right up front, oozing warmly out of your speakers like bilious molasses. The drums, too, pound forth righteous doom-hell, nice and high in the mix. But it’s the vocals that leap out of the din and throttle the listener. Mike Morowitz pukes his larynx out, and his voice gives The Roller a distinctly blackened edge to their sound (see second track “Feather And Bone”).

From the ominous opening drum break, through the plaintive leads, opener “Candle Black” is sinister and lurching at first – until the main riff kicks in two minutes in, and the song finally ruptures, letting loose its venom and howling fury. Violent and hypnotic, the song’s lead riff pummels alongside the spite-filled vocal, while the end segment of the song is like a slow-motion avalanche hurling itself down the side of a mountain, unstoppable, devastating. “Feather And Bone”, again, starts slow and methodical, with solid sheets of guitar roar laboring overtop a minimal slaveship drum pound. But when the groove kicks in (and it kicks in hard), the drums propel the riff like a solemn death march. Morowitz’s vocals are especially grave here, as he retches the lyrics in a lumbering, diabolic trimeter. Illustrating a bloody tale of tribal warfare, the song thunders like some angry god in the sky, its coda dropping tempo to pulse-thudding depths – absolutely jaw-dropping. “Passage” snarls and rages right out of the gate, only to gradually drop out to teeth-grinding slowpocalypse like some hulking doom beast risen from beneath the crust of the earth. Fourteen-minute “White Wing” is the somber and moody closer. Dripping with a morose aura, the song creeps in almost gently, clean and ominous, hinting at the wreckage of what’s to come. And like clockwork, the song descends once again into slow grind hell, bobbing like a shipwreck victim clinging to anything buoyant.

The vinyl’s encased in a gatefold cover featuring lush riverside forest photography, with drums and backline making an abrupt appearance riverside on the back cover. Minimalistic credits on the inside gatefold, and the insert contains lyrics and brief thanks, as well as a black and white photo of the band + beards + beer, presumably looking rather not to be fucked with.

The Roller offer no apology for their crust-laden brand of hatesludge. They don’t care if you like ‘em or hate ‘em; they’re going to keep on bulldozing everything that gets in the way regardless.

(Cyclopean Records)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.