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Nasty High - Where the River Runs

Nasty High
Where the River Runs
by Mark Machlay at 19 May 2020, 4:14 AM

NASTY HIGH, is a group of UK melodic rockers that make you long for the better times – the AOR hard rock of the 80's. The band consists of lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Dan Bentley, twin lead guitarists – and background vocals – Nick Constantino and Aaron Beckwirth, bassist JB Haze and drummer Mazzy Speed. They have released their sophomore full-length record with “Where the River Runs”. Formed in 2015 as a 4 piece, the young lads were quick to release their first full-length effort only two years after forming with “Liquid Scream” in 2017. In 2018, previous lead guitarist Marco Alvarez moved back to Spain and they hired Beckworth. Towards the end of that year, Bentley wanted to focus solely on singing and being a great front man and brought on Constantino as they continued to pick through and choose which songs they had been working on to include in their second record.

They bring the constant hooks and glam looks without so much of the cheese that peppered the 80's. They seemed to have fully modernized the 80's production with a touch of power metal flair. To further add to that power metal influence, they have toured with one-time IRON MAIDEN singer Blaze Bayley. They have clearly taken a step forward in terms of song-writing from their debut, featuring catchy sing-able choruses and crazy fast and captivating solo guitar leads. Bentley’s singing is particularly amazing, starting off the opening track with a scream very similar to Tom Araya’s wail on SLAYER’s “Angel of Death” but more beautiful and devoid of the trailing off sounds of agony. If this had been released in the 80's rather now 2020, it surely would have made waves if not as far as the US certainly in their UK home. Favorite tracks are opener “Make ‘Em Pay”, “Waiting to Fall” and “Let Yourself Go”, the latter of which’s hook I cannot get out of my head it’s so catchy.

Unfortunately, while the composition of the tracks are top notch, the whole package is marred by the problematic production. 80's style production is an aesthetic choice that I’m sympathetic to and it certainly follows that mold pretty closely. But the drums are mixed so muddily it’s distracting. It isn’t present on every track, but the snare drum – normally chock full of delayed reverb – is also so squishy it has no definition. The bass drum, obviously triggered and extremely clean, juxtaposed against the snare sounds amateurish. The bass guitar could be brought up a bit more prominently in the mix as well, Haze shows some real creativity in his lines and I would really love to hear a bit more of it. The effects on the vocals, while sounding washed out, gives a nice sheen that I actually enjoy, like the final touch of makeup of those 80's glam metal groups. Think about mixing their drums a bit better on their third effort and they could have a true diamond on their hands.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 5

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Make ‘Em Pay
2. Waiting to Fall
3. Travelling in Time
4. Catastrophe
5. Don’t Leave the Light On
6. Let Yourself Go
7. Believe It
8. Still High
9. Where the River Runs
10. Renegade
Lineup:
Dan Bentley - Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar
JB Haze - Bass and Background Vocals
Nick Constantino - Lead Guitar and Background Vocals
Arron Beckworth - Lead Guitar and Background Vocals
Mazzy Speed - Drums and Background Vocals
Record Label: Absorbing Recordings
     


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