|Review: High Spirits - High Spirits|
Label: High Roller Records
Year released: 2010
Originally released in: 2009
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: January 12, 2010
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Rated 3.4/5 (68%) (10 Votes)
Maybe I'm just getting old (no, I'm definitely getting old) but as much as I like today's metal, I often think back to the early 80s and rummaging through boxes of albums at flea markets or making road trips to independent record stores, looking for next underground or import "find." It was so cool to grab an LP based on the artwork or band logo only to get home and have the music simply KILL. (Of course, there was a lot of shit, too.)
Sorry to bore you with my reminiscing and hopefully you are still reading this, but that aforementioned feeling is exactly what I got when I first listened to High Spirits' self-titled debut. This is a re-release of two demos and represents the most authentic re-creation of that early 80s sound I have found, and I've reviewed quite a few bands that play the retro style recently.
The songs on High Spirits are beautiful in their simplicity. There is nothing extraneous, no keyboards, and no over-extended solos. The vocals have that garage band, "no-one-wanted-to-sing-but-I'm-the-best-of-the-lot-so-here-goes" sound, and that's a good thing, because they fit the music perfectly. Even the production is spot-on early 80s. The thick, fuzzy guitars ooze from the speakers. The songs pay homage to those who've gone before without actually ripping them off. Influences range from the proto-Metal of KISS and Uriah Heep to pioneers like Motorhead and Judas Priest right up through heroes of the NWOBHM like Blitzkrieg and Saxon. Check out the opening riffs of "Torture" or "Night After Night" to see what I mean. Then bask in the high speed glory of "Wanted Dead" with its lightning fast riffing and infectious chorus.
Chris Black, drummer for Pharaoh, is the main man behind High Spirits. He handles both vocals and bass and has captured it all; songs, sound and performance. High Spirits transports the listener back in time. The band's Myspace page notes they are working on becoming a "fully realized" band. I, for one, hope this only refers to a stable lineup of musicians and not any ill-conceived "improvement" to the sound or production. I like it just the way it is. It's damn near perfect. NWOBHM fans should eat this up and if you weren't around in the 80s, check out what you missed.
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