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Eastern High – Halo

Eastern High
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 31 August 2021, 11:14 AM

The Swedish Metal act EASTERN HIGH started with the two brothers Ola and Johan Svensson, who were members of the Thrash Metal band WASTED SHELLS, which had gained fame in the underground scene of Sweden, but split up in 2015, after which the band emerged as a new vision of a more Progressive approach. The self-released debut album “Garden of Heathens” was produced in early 2017, and released in July the same year. The album quickly gained recognition across the globe, and has seen a steady increase of streaming since release. The brothers decided to keep the momentum going and develop the project and form it to a full-scale live band. Their latest album is presented here, and contains eight tracks.

“Ashes to Ashes” leads off the album. It opens with soft key notes and poignant vocals, sung low in the registry. It opens up a bit with the vocals going higher, and a very nice guitar solo, but it’s mostly a sad affair, with plenty of longing. “Dystopia” begins with a harder and more aggressive sound, coming from a tough riff and lots of percussion. The vocalist seems more comfortable in the baritone range, but he does stretch out a bit in the chorus. “Emperor” is another darker sound that harkens back to yesteryear a bit. Stylistically, they remind me a bit of a heavy metal HIM, probably because of the singer.

“Erosion of Hearts” opens with some lead notes, and audible bass notes. The sound is a bit heavier here…a full on assault. That longing quality is still omnipresent, and it dominates the music too much. “Halo” brings a similar sound. Five tracks in and the sound has not changed much. The band needs to push themselves if they really want to make an impact on the genre. “Journey” is the first track that presents a bit of diversity. Though the opening sequence is rooted in mystery, the pacing is the same, and the album is getting bogged down with this same sound.

“Morning Star” features a slightly heavier sound, but the same vocal style and pacing. The harsh vocals are different, however, but they don’t last too long, coming in at the end with anger. “Notorious Enemy” closes the album…a succinct four minutes long. Again, the harsh vocals bring an angry quality to the music, and it’s better than the desponded sounds in my opinion. There really isn’t much in the way of Progressive elements in the music, at least not that I could hear.

There is an occasional meter shift, but beyond that, despondent tones dominate the album, as does the overuse of mid-tempo pacing. The later leads to what I always call “the mid-tempo blues.” It mires the album down and doesn’t let the sound become fully realized. The overly sappy tones on the album also stand out. I’m unsure what exactly the band is trying to get across here, but overall, it sounds like an offering with potential and occasional high points. The production is quite good, however, and the band is talented. If they can fix the pacing, and back off the longing for the next album, they might be onto something.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 4
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Ashes to Ashes
2. Dystopia
3. Emperor
4. Erosion of Hearts
5. Halo
6. Journey
7. Morning Star
8. Notorious Enemy
Ola Svensson – Vocals
Johan Svensson – Guitar
Niklas Cvetkovski – Guitar
Fredrik Rosdahl – Bass
Christian Lindström – Drums
Record Label: Independent


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