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High Rise – Left It For Everything

High Rise
Left It For Everything
by Devin C. Baker at 12 March 2017, 9:34 PM

While a friendly little record review is not the proper venue for my impassioned (not to mention well-reasoned and insightful) screed on genres and sub-genres and the near-religious zeal they inspire, know this: I am one who eyes genre distinctions with ambivalence at best. It's useful to have a language for contextualizing an artist's general milieu, but these ever-fracturing descriptors become distasteful when viewed as rigid rules beyond which a band dare not venture, lest their genre purity be called into question. All that said, ready your slings and arrows to volley at my hypocrisy.

I've always been anti-Metalcore. Now, I'll turn right around and go all dorky for some COALESCE, BOTCH or CONVERGE, but of course, I'll call that “Metallic hardcore,” because…semantics. Silly, right? I mean, who cares what sub-genre a band claims to work within, if it's good it's good, no? Well, I'm just enough of an old curmudgeon to have blithely maintained a blind-spot when it comes to Metalcore, and for no good reason. Thankfully, I also deeply hate not knowing stuff, so a couple of years back, I set about investigating what goodies might be hiding behind this banner, and not a moment too soon, it would seem, for here I am now poised to weigh in on a five-song offering of unabashed Metalcore, replete with many of its characteristic trappings; and that offering is “Left It For Everything”, an EP by London, England's HIGH RISE.

This is just the second release for High Rise, the other also being an EP. A brisk but varied collection, it skilfully displays a style that's almost an assemblage, a pastiche, of styles in play under the broader Metalcore umbrella. I don't mean to suggest that these Londoners lack an identity of their own; to the contrary, their selection of sonic elements simply seems to exhibit good taste on their part. Noticeable immediately is the quality of the guitar work. (I'd single someone out for this, but try as I might, on their Facebook page, Bandcamp page or official website, they never break down who does what, and since I have no physical copy…) Opener “Hands Untied” begins with a gorgeously discordant chimey, buzzing Post-Hardcore riff that recalls the mighty HÜSKER DÜ, and the tasty guitar tricks continue to poke into the gaps here and there, trading off with the vocals for lead duty; of special note is a sweet little bendy bit in a pre-chorus breakdown at about 2' 45”. Harmonizing octaves open follow-up “Piece By Piece” - a device Hardcore axemen have owned since the glory days of FUGAZI - leading to an adrenaline-fueled three-minute minor-key banger designed for radio or a video game soundtrack. Tasteful chord choices and nimble fret-work would certainly put one in mind of another giant of the genre, UNDEROATH. Be it the atmospheric delay-chase that resurfaces throughout ur-ballad “L.I.F.E.”, or the melodic counterpointS against richly layered, complex chords that feature in closer “Vultures”, the guitars are especially canny and on point.

From a songwriting and vocal standpoint, HIGH RISE veers into some of the territory that used to spur my ill-will toward this genre. The harsh vocals are strong and consistent, if a little depthless, and the shouting is impassioned. The cleans have a higher degree of that “petulant schoolboy” quality I and many others find so unbecoming in something from the Metal side of the spectrum, but it's not unbearable. And while the songwriting has a certain marketable, mass appeal, reminiscent of A DAY TO REMEMBER, it's not saccharine or Pop-Punk treacly, as I often find that band to be. They steer well-clear of the nasal, overwrought histrionics of, say, WE CAME AS ROMANS, so I count that in their favour. Songs tend to be heartfelt declarations of the standard youth-empowerment stuff: what we're not gonna take, what they can't make us do, what we're gonna do and fuck anyone who says otherwise. Team-building with F-bombs - this stuff wants to be liked.

And that's okay, this music is marketable, it appeals to the young folk and HIGH RISE are very good at it. While they're well shy of the gravitas and Hardcore fury of a band like THE GHOST INSIDE, their sound fits in quite well alongside established Metalcore acts like SILVERSTEIN or the aforementioned UNDEROATH. This EP is meant to garner attention and airplay - digital, traditional, podcast, whatever; which brings me to the production. “Left It For Everything” is modern and it is loud - brick wall loud. No one could accuse this release of being dynamic in the least; even the “quiet” parts are enormous. This friendly little record review is not the proper venue for THAT screed, either, however, and it's so common that I could hardly count it as a major strike against HIGH RISE. Production pluses: everything is audible and distinct, but the whole is glued together nicely. While they've indulged in a smattering of the electronic gimmickry one often finds in the Metalcore field - in this case, some “AM radio” vocal treatment here, big climactic reversal there, a peppering of trancey synth effects - it's never egregious or gratuitous and doesn't risk their being lumped in with the Electronicore crowd.

A solid early effort from these young Londoners; they've clearly got the chops to make good music. I could only ask that they stretch themselves out, break free from the pack a bit more and establish a clearer identity, but time will out on that score. Nevertheless, while it may not be my preferred cup of bile, credit is due, and these guys deserve plenty of spins and a full-length to really show what they can do.

Songwriting – 7
Originality – 7
Memorability – 7
Production – 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
  1. Hands Untied
  2. Piece By Piece
  3. Reborn
  4. L.I.F.E.
  5. Vultures
Lineup:
Jovic Staddon
Tom Thain
Ricky Gurung
Ryan Beckett
Sam Christou
Record Label: Independent
     


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