Written by: TL on 01/09/2013 21:03:38

While there's no guarantee that people in these parts (or in this day) will recognise bandnames like Christie Front Drive, Pg. 99 or even Darkest Hour, those that do should be as surprised as I was finding out that members from these (and others) are now in a band together called Highness. This is the case however, and on their debut record "Hold" the band offers a sound that compares easily (and not surprisingly, considered its release on a label called Magic Bullet) to Texas Is The Reason, Christie Front Drive and their (aptly named and lesser known) contemporaries Kid Brother Collective, with the main exception being that Highness sound like they're trying to sound bigger, a bit heavier and more uplifting.

What's on the menu then, is the sort of fuzzy and obvious quiet/loud dynamics that you'd expect from either of those bands, along with similarly peculiar, nasal lead vocals (that remind me of Lighthouse Family's hit "High" on "If You Found Out, I Would Stay"), yet boosted by a rhythm section that consistently goes for a more powerful and dramatic sound. Keeping it short and to the point at a strict eight tracks, "Gaea (Strings)", "If You Found Out, I Would Stay" and "We're All We Need" are clear highlights, embedding melodies that are easy on the ears at the heart of the stormful soundscape, dragging you in and preparing you for the predictable jump from moody verses to spread-out-your-arms type choruses.

In terms of mixing this main aesthetic up, we get an atmospheric instrumental track in "Forking Roads" that offers a nice change of pace at track four, while "Crepuscular Rays" takes a more progressive approach, with a more brooding and churning side to the guitars that brings my mind to the unpredictability of a band like And You Shall Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - a notion that is carried over in the instrumental drone and climax that caps off closing three-in-one track "You Know Everything | God | Stars Pass Us Over". The only real bump in the road in my opinion, is "Stitched Together" at track three, which employs a less than harmonic shouty vocal, slightly reminiscent of Rites Of Spring, yet with a an effect that strikes me as a bit too out of place compared to the rest of the record.

The main thing for me when it comes to "Hold" however, is that while I don't think it's a record that lends itself too well to colourful explanation, it's a characteristic and welcoming listen that I've enjoyed more than I initially thought I would. I like it when bands like this bring the older and more obscure emo sound back, and I like that Highness are giving it a slight twist, even if they don't manage to completely escape sounding a tiny bit dated and derivative. On the flipside however, if you look beyond the obvious references I've posted in the FTFO section below here, Highness seems to me like a band that could appeal to fans of bands as far apart as the aforementioned 'Trail Of Dead, Moving Mountains and even Cloud Nothings (at least their darker material). So basically, if these guys stick together and develop this sound, I'll be keeping an eye out.

Download: Gaea (Strings); If You Found Out, I Would Stay; We're All We Need;
For The Fans Of: Kid Brother Collective, Texas Is The Reason, Christie Front Drive,
Listen: facebook.com/highnessinfection

Release Date 14.05.2013
Magic Bullet / Disk Union

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