Heriot’s hyper-intense, caustic assault draws from extreme metal, grind, hardcore, industrial and Christ knows what else.
And the quartet, who released their debut EP, Profound Morality, in April, are swiftly becoming a must-see on the UK scene.
Ahead of Heriot’s Dominion Festival appearance, Rich Holmes caught up with guitarist Erhan Alman and drummer Julian Gage to find out what Heriot are cooking up for their first album, and why it’s good to have friends in the Church…

RUSHONROCK: You played Download Festival in June – how was that experience?

Julian Gage: It was our first proper festival and it exceeded all my expectations.

We hoped it would be good, but I don’t think we expected so many people to turn out to see us at that time of day.

Erhan Alman: It’s started to sink in now. It was incredible. It’s been a bucket list thing for all of us.

We’ve been going to the festival for ages as fans and we still can’t believe it happened to be honest.

RUSHONROCK: Have you been surprised at the reaction to the Profound Morality EP?

EA: “Honestly, we’re quite grounded as a band. We’ve done this for a long time. We don’t expect the world. But yeah, it’s been pretty mental!

To have such big publications like Revolver and Kerrang backing us… it’s a bit mad.

RUSHONROCK: Along with bassist/vocalist Jake Packer, you started out as a trio back in 2015, playing in a more sludge-orientated style. How has Heriot evolved since those days?

JG: I think it’s very much a different band. We kind of relaunched in 2020. We see that as a fresh start: the only thing that really stayed is the name. We only added one member (guitarist Debbie Gough), but the whole dynamic changed and we took it a lot more seriously from that point.

We used to hit writer’s block quite easily. We used to get together for once a week and try to hammer out a song in four hours, and it just never works like that.

The pandemic gave us time to figure out what we wanted to do. And it’s all kind of gone exactly to plan.

I feel like we are still very much learning. All of the music we’ve written in this new incarnation is out, so it’s still kind of new. There’s not a lot we haven’t used.

But there is a lot of stuff we haven’t tried. And I’m sure everyone’s got ideas to bring to the table once we can actually get in the room and start working on the demos.

RUSHONROCK: You attract fans from both the extreme metal and hardcore scenes. Why do you think Heriot connects with so many people? 

EA: Even we can’t place what band we sound like, or which genre we fit into!

It’s worked for our booking agent, he can put us on tours with audiences a metalcore band might not usually reach – if that’s how people want to define us.

It works to our strength.

We all listen to different stuff. Julian and I don’t really listen to metal, unless it’s nu metal or Slipknot. Every time we come together, we all have different influences and ideas that we bring to it. And I think because of that it’s a bit of a melting pot. It doesn’t sound like one particular thing. I don’t think we fit into a particular mould.

We just write stuff that we think would sound cool and I think it just ends up being a bit fresher… and not stuck to a particular genre.

RUSHONROCK: Where do you want to take the Heriot sound on your debut album? How do you see it changing?

JG: I think the singles (2020’s Cleansed Existence and last year’s Recreant, Dispirit and Near Vision/Enter The Flesh) were us trying to find out what we were good at and what worked.

With the industrial side, we didn’t intend to do it, it just kind of happened when we were in the studio messing around with sounds.

The EP built on that. I think we’ve got a really good core sound. We’re going to continue to build on elements of that record and hopefully people like how it goes.

EA: Profound Morality is our record, our baby, but it’s 20 minutes of music. It’s very much a bit of a taster menu to where the album will be eventually.

There’s so much more we can do with all of the different elements people like.

When Cleansed Existence came out it was our first single with Deb, as a four piece. She was just trying vocals on that. And I think as time has gone on, she’s really come into her own, just trying new stuff. We’ve been friends of hers for God knows how long, but she’s doing stuff and writing vocal lines and melodies that I haven’t heard from her before.

It’s almost like we’re working with new musicians in a weird way. We know we haven’t got the most out of each other. That’s exciting.

Every time we come in a room together it sounds different, but it still sounds like us. I think that’s what is making us so excited about the album: we know this isn’t the end. This isn’t just ‘we got lucky with a pot shot and the EP sounds wicked’. It is the start of what could be something really cool.

RUSHONROCK: Profound Morality was released on Church Road Records, which is run by Employed To Serve’s Justine Jones and Sammy Irwin. How important has it been to have their backing?

EA: Monumental. We loved Church Road because they were just putting out wicked band after wicked band. And with them being in a band themselves… that’s why we were drawn to them because we knew they understood the slugging of starting out as a band.

They’re like family, they are so supportive.

JG: We had Justine at the side of the stage at Download and Sammy running around in the pit. That’s the kind of people you’re working with. It’s pretty cool.

RUSHONROCK: The UK metal scene seems to be on an upward curve, with acts such as Svalbard, Malevolence and Loathe gaining international attention, and the underground continuing to produce exciting new acts. Is this a good time to be a heavy band in the UK?

EA: Music’s just wicked at the moment. There are so many good, different bands coming out.

Everyone’s backing each other. Everyone’s pushing each other up. There’s no rivalry.

JG: There are a lot of bands who we get compared to in the press, or are lumped in with this new British wave of metal: they are bands that we really like, especially bands like Loathe, Pupil Slicer and Static Dress that are coming out now. I think that the British scene is so healthy.

Svalbard have been a band for a long time but they kind of had this second wind on their third record: it was way bigger than anything they’d done before. It’s really cool to see.

Bands in the scene are so supportive of each other now and it seems like we’ve made so many friends in the last six months.

It’s a nice little community.

RUSHONROCK: What are your ambitions for Heriot?

JG: I think the European festival circuit next year is an achievable aim. But I don’t like to plan too far ahead. We’re quite spontaneous with what we’ve done. It all just happened so quickly.

There are obviously bands I’d love to tour with and venues I’d love to play, but they still just feel too far out of reach.

I’d love to do an Academy tour or something like that in two years. I think that could be cool. But we are quite an extreme band, so there’s always a glass ceiling of where we can go!

EA: We like bands that are constantly putting out stuff and innovating… and trying something new. So that’s definitely an ethic for us. It isn’t necessarily something that we talk about, but subconsciously, we’re always putting pressure on ourselves, even if labels or whoever else aren’t.

RUSHONROCK: You’re playing a number of festivals over the summer including Bloodstock and Arctangent. How does it feel to be getting into festival mode after nearly two years of cancelled events?

JG: It’s great just having festivals back properly. Last year we only really had the Download pilot and a few shows around September. It’s nice to have a proper festival season and it has been sunny as well!

We’ve been looking back at old line-ups to see what bands were in the (festival) slots we’re in and then seeing where they are now – that’s something to build towards.

RUSHONROCK: Heriot will be appearing at Dominion Festival – the first open air metal festival to be held in North East England – on July 29. What’s your take on the event?

EA: The line-up’s wicked. I think everyone should have a festival that’s accessible to them because there are fans everywhere: we are lucky that we have 2000 Trees and Arctangent on our doorsteps.

We’re excited. Hopefully the weather sticks out as well!

Check out our full Dominion Festival preview here.

For tickets and more information on Dominion Festival, click here.