Heaters Produce Full-Throttle Psychedelic Rock
When it originated in the ’60s, psychedelic rock was more than just the soundtrack to a movement – it was an attempt to render the hallucinogenic experience through music. Doing this requires expressing two interwoven dimensions: the psychedelic moment, and the evolution of that moment through time. The genre’s greatest artists were masters of the second variable, composing music which mirrored a roiling interior landscape. On their second full length album, Baptistina, Michigan rock trio Heaters manage to quickly find frenzied heights, but with 10 songs, they never think to slow down and take a look around.
“Centennial”, the album’s opening number, provides a blueprint for nearly all that follows. A tidal wave of reverb slowly tumbles from silence, gathering additional guitars as it crescendos in a roar of high-velocity shredding. From a distance, singer/guitarist Andrew Tamlyn’s voice bellows over the instrumentation, like he’s trying to shout over a canyon. His words are mostly unintelligible, smeared over swaths of music rather than carefully arranged. While this effect is generally successful in producing the kind of prismatic atmosphere Heaters seem to be aiming for, they tend to abuse it. On “Garden Eater”, the phrase “Woke up in the garden today” is chanted until it dissolves into a puddle of words, which continue to drone on for a stretch of minutes that feel longer than they should. Too often, tracks will turn into similar psychedelic mush.
Heaters are talented, and they certainly have vision, but they haven’t learned to take a foot off the gas. There are a handful of moments which transcend the album’s convoluted intricacy, namely on tracks “Elephant Turner” and “Mango”, but the LP’s length (46 minutes) demanded more. Perhaps Baptistina would have worked better as an EP. It offers a trip, but you wind up walking in circles.