With all the saturated sludge that pours into our charts, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a record that fights to stands out above the rest. Sporting one monotonous EP, The Goat Ritual, HIGH FIGHTER has teamed up with Toshi Kasai (and raided the musical spice cabinet) to produce their upcoming debut album Scars & Crosses and it meritoriously screams, “Here I am!”
The album begins weakly with A Silver Heart; one minute of listening to what sounds like a guy seemingly testing his guitar in a booth in Dawsons. Just as expectations for this album begin to descend, HIGH FIGHTER erupts with a powerfully rich mix, marking their territory as far as their sound will carry.
One element that displays immense advancement is Mona Miluski’s vocals. Her warmer tone blends a great deal more favourably with the band, and presents her with a stronger position as front-woman.
Second song, Darkest Days, is by far the finest track on the album. The band compliments each other’s creativity and build together confidently, allowing the listener to feel safe in succumbing to its seductive, sludgy sway. Constantin Wüst’s comforting bass tone leads us to the song’s awing bridge, where we are greeted with the psychedelic hand of ‘wah’ guitar, the communal stabs symbolizing our ascent into higher ground and Mona’s smooth rising vocal lines. We are overcome with such emotion that the song ends with an echoing guitar pull off, gently guiding us back down.
The Gateskeeper, Blinders and Portrait Mind fail to live up to the intensity of Darkest Days, merging together to create a blur that only holds its interest through Thomas Wildelau’s rhythmic flow. Whilst still true to their stoner rock roots, the ‘slow and lazy’ riffs are an easy background listen, yet doesn’t conceal the disappointment that the energy created couldn’t be maintained.
Gods re-establishes HIGH FIGHTER’s infectiously foot-tapping demeanour, providing a compositionally simple canvas for the vocals to be the main focus. Albeit a strong and fierce performer, Mona Miluski had the potential to completely own Gods with vocal talent and technique, but opted for a more reserved approach; slightly saddening to see that potential unfulfilled. Christian Pappas and Ingwer Boysen’s contributions to the band are solidified in Down to the Sky, bestowing us with their skills of appropriately placed lead lines that amalgamate sublimely with the band.
The album ends on Scars & Crosses, a song that gives the impression they believe it to be a concoction of everything the band has to offer; providing us a cocktail of gruffer vocals and faster tempos, poured neatly over Thomas and Mona’s choral harmonies and rumbling doom chords.
HIGH FIGHTER’s Scars & Crosses is a nebulous collection of styles, brandishing crunchy blues guitar solos, contagiously slow riffs and propulsive vocal melodies. Sure, they aren’t revolutionary in their compositions, but what they do works. Consider them a pizza, if you will; each song providing the listener with a plethora of toppings different to the next, but at the end of the day, it’s just pizza. And who doesn’t love pizza?
Scars & Crosses is set for release on June 10th 2016 via Svart Records.
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