An energetic three piece delivered from the Windy City like a category five hurricane, High Priests are here to blow your mortal soul away with their latest black missa cantata, Spinning. Let us pray.
Due for release on Milwaukee label Triple Eye Industries, production quality abounds. Formed up of former and current members of The Brokedowns, Wide Angles and Post Child, High Priests have set out to forge a completely new artistic path, and there’s a clear direction and sense of purpose throughout the record. Engineered at Kildare Studios by Joe Gac, this is a professional and accomplished piece of work, with a observant lo-fi edge to keep the purists happy. As per the architect’s blueprints, it’s equal parts grit and clarity.
The tone is set with opener “Control”, a fast, punky, aggressive, sludge-doom cocktail of Melvins, Ministry and Snakes for the Devine-era High on Fire, declaring the gods that our priests will be worshipping for the next half hour. As per the catechism, if you wish to ascend to a higher state of spiritual consciousness and awaken your chakras with a consecrated herbal cigarette, feel free.
Mikey Alesi plays a guitar that represents an entire orchestra of violence and harsh vocals that hack at the gut like a serrated knife. Four-string flingers (including your humble correspondent) will find a lot to love in Justin Gutierrez’s bass too, which hauls every song like a tractor unit, a distorted grumbling earthquake reminiscent of Filter’s Title of Record.
While the ear may strain to hear them beneath the ocean of distortion, the lyrics are considered and complement the record perfectly: “Every time I look in the mirror I see a different face / Which means I’ve lived a thousand lives and I’ve died a thousand times / And I’m not here, I’m just passing through” creates a hymn to existential isolation and nihilistic absurdity on “10 Years.”
By way of a minor criticism, Spinning is extremely loyal to its style and accordingly has a tendency to be slightly homogeneous. I would have perhaps liked to hear more shifts in tempo and dynamics that would serve to emphasise the sonic blitzkrieg rather than dilute it. This does exist in places, such as in “10 Years” where it slips into a gnarly bass-driven verse, in the bass solo of “Control”, and in “Night Train” which screams out an all-aboard lead riff before firing up the locomotive. The heavy syncopation on a couple of tracks also show massive promise; Mustafa Daka’s drumming on penultimate “Drop of a Pin” plays murder with the heartbeat, and wouldn’t be out of place on Tool’s Lateralus.
Such minor points of note will take nothing away from an essentially polished composition, however. If a High Priests’s live performance contains just a fraction of power that this album does, I would imagine that they’re incredible to witness in the flesh. This record is non-stop aural onslaught that will leave your head Spinning.
Spinning is out on 23rd March