High Spirits - Hard To Stop

(CD/LP, High Roller, 2020)   

One of the things that make me think I have grown old(er) is band anniversaries. Reading that HIGH SPIRITS are celebrating their 10th anniversary made me pause a bit to recall getting that minimalistic looking vinyl inside a white sleeve with a printed piece of paper as liner note 10 years ago, while being on the other side of the Atlantic. Sure, acknowledging the passing of time can be a hard pill to swallow for some, but definitely not for me. I like to connect albums and, in some rare cases, bands with life milestones, no matter if those are high or low moments. In this case, I have tied HIGH SPIRITS with some amazing memories, and this reason is more than enough to fuel my excitement for every single thing Professor Black is putting out. I cannot recall a single piece of music that has come out with the HIGH SPIRITS moniker on the cover that did not put a huge smile on my face and got me instantly singing-along. After reading the above, how do you imagine it was for me right after double clicking on the “Hard To Stop” folder?

The PRIEST-like guitar action builds the excitement that you feel the moment the lights go out and your favorite band shows up onstage. Oh boy, the massive rhythm guitar screams for headbanging, with Chris’ trademark vocals revealing that is HIGH SPIRITS time. The combination of the galloping rhythm with the main riff is exactly what one is looking for when in concert. I am talking about getting hit straight to the face to wake up from all those curveballs life likes to throw at you. “Let’s go” says Chris to let the guitar solo pour more fuel in your engine that already has all cylinders firing. There is a sweet nostalgia surfacing up every time I listen to HIGH SPIRITS, even though I was not a teenager when I listened to their debut. Some songs are more powerful than others in that aspect, with “Restless” belonging to this “special” batch. The main riff with the RUNNING WILD flair is enough to make me daydream, no matter where I am. Listening closer to this one, and after recovering from the initial excitement, I got the chance to notice that the bass and drums are a tad more complex as compared to past HIGH SPIRITS works, and I invite you to note the stronger presence of the bass in the mix. In fact, I believe this is characteristic throughout the album, especially when you listen to “Hard To Stop” with headphones. No matter your listening device, it is a given you will enjoy “Face To Face” and imagine long-night-drives with this playing at maximum volume. Careful though, because “Hearts Will Burn” might call for higher speed with the rhythm guitar setting the tempo in an almost NWOBHM way that you’ll definitely enjoy. Ok, “Voice In The Wind” did throw me off balance a bit starting with Chris singing in a lower pitch, before going all Hard Rock on you. The clean rhythm guitar and the mood-lifting groove reminded me of IRON MAIDEN’s “Reach Out” with a bit of A.S.A.P. and I will let you discover the connection between those two (it should not be hard).

Another reason why I love HIGH SPIRITS is the ability to hit all the right nerves by picking on bands I grew up with, without losing an inch of their own musical identity. If you don’t get a taste of MAIDEN (of the Di’Anno era) with “All Night Long”, and of MOTÖRHEAD with “Now I Know”, then you have some serious homework to do and study all the classics. “Midnight Sun” is probably a reworked edition from the “2013” EP because it has a different production and I believe a longer solo. The thing is that I like both versions, with the former having raw(er) sound, and the latter putting more focus on the amazing main melody and impossible-to-not-get-stuck chorus (“ooooon and on, the midnight sun is burning for you...”). The album closes in the same adrenaline injected way it started; We Are Everywhere has tight rhythm section, killer hi-hat sound and the same ol’ nostalgia I keep repeating whenever I am referring to HIGH SPIRITS. I am sure the band will debate whether to start or finish a concert with this one, as it shares the same “we are all in this together” vibe with “Thank You”. Plus, the backing vocals are calling your name to sing your lungs out and put your troubles on the side for a while.

That’s exactly the spirit in HIGH SPIRITS and I’m so happy that Chris believes and lives by the fact that is hard to stop (double pun fully intended). The only downside is that now I am craving for a HIGH SPIRITS concert that frankly I have no fringin’ idea when it will take place. This music should be played at maximum volume to have the full intended effect of pushing your spirits high. This is the beauty of music – do not let it slip by especially now that we need this more than ever.

10/10 


Links:

www.FaceBook.Com/HighEnergyRock


Tracklist:

01. Since You've Been Gone
02. Restless
03. Face To Face
04. Hearts Will Burn
05. Voice In The Wind
06. All Night Long
07. Midnight Sun
08. Now I Know
09. We Are Everywhere


Lineup:

Chris Black - All Instruments, Vocals
Scott - Guitar
Mike - Guitar
Bob - Bass
Ian - Drums