So much obvious contemplation and care has gone into the debut album, The Heavens Are Not On Fire, by the genre-bending Houston band Wills Dissolve that it became a many-layered artistic achievement, from the conceptual framework to the album art to the music, which is itself multiply textured, technically impressive, and constantly changing but coherent.
Perhaps it’s best to begin with the album’s concept, which is itself fascinating. It’s based on the Leonid meteor shower of November 1833, the first great meteor storm of modern times, in which hundreds of thousands of meteors blasted through the atmosphere per hour. In rural West Texas (as in other locales), it was mistaken as a sign from God, followed by destruction. From that event, Wills Dissolve have crafted a musical meditation on religion, violence, and cosmic chaos — or as one band member has remarked, “the grave consequences of misapplied dogmatic zeal.”
The concept is reflected in the album title, but also in the song titles themselves, which together form a sentence: “The heavens are not on fire, so do not mistake these ashes for signs from on high on this cold November night, 11-13-1833“.
With that concept animating them, Wills Dissolve turned to the Brazilian artist Cauê Piloto (an NCS favorite), and guided by the band’s ideas he created the beautiful cover painting, which vividly reflects both the concept of the album and the sensations of the music.
As for the music, it’s worth knowing that the members of Wills Dissolve come from disparate musical backgrounds, with divergent interests. As discussed in the same interview quoted above, the members (guitarists/vocalists Nick Block and Andrew Caruana, bassist Shaun Weller, and drummer Branson Heinz) brought to the band musical tastes that range from black and death metal to doom, from progressive rock and post-metal to punk. The band’s name comes from a track of the Isis masterpiece Panopticon, and that band, along with Opeth, Ihsahn, and Ahab, are among the influences that led Block and Caruana to form the band in late 2015.
Signs of this musical diversity are scattered across the adrenaline-triggering and equally mesmerizing song from The Heavens Are Not On Fire that we’re premiering today, the name of which is “So Do Not Mistake These Ashes“.
Bright, darting guitar reverberations ring out at the start; a crashing drum-and-bass appearance leads into a heavy, bouncing rhythm as the guitar notes continue to flicker and then swirl; the drums thunder and a lashing riff joins in along with harsh growls and mind-warping leads; the layered leads transform into a boiling extravagance as the rhythm section hammers hard; surprising clean vocals soar soulfully over bursts of percussive weaponry and glimmering melody; and a beautiful guitar solo also whirls and soars.
A light acoustic-and-electric guitar duet with a self-reflective mood breaks the surge, and becomes a dance, which then segues into a burst of battering, searing power as the harsh vocals return. Yet another remarkably vibrant guitar solo helps send the music toward the heavens even as the vocals provide a harsh serrated edge; the band then move into a mix of heavy, hard-jarring rhythms and sparkling guitar notes… and the song ends abruptly, as if about to move right into the next track, which is equally fascinating.
But you’ll have to wait a bit to hear that one. The Heavens Are Not On Fire will be released on October 26th, and you can pre-order it now.
01. THE HEAVENS ARE NOT ON FIRE (12:25)
02. SO DO NOT MISTAKE THESE ASHES (8:32)
03. FOR SIGNS FROM ON HIGH (11:42)
04. ON THIS COLD NOVEMBER NIGHT (11:41)
05. 11-13-1833 (3:18)