Old Lies For Young Lives

Written by: AP on 23/10/2013 22:40:51

Here's a record that's lingered in my queue for far too long, whilst I've revelled too passionately in the world of doom, sludge and heritage rock. I must confess: hardcore has received little attention on my playlists this year - this despite the fact that certain variants of it, such as the melodic style professed by Heights, have always been dear to me. The British band, reduced to a quartet since they last featured under my spotlight, released a new LP entitled "Old Lies for Young Lives" in April, and now, nearly five months later, I feel it has been procrastinated sufficiently and a review is in order. It is, as its title suggests, an album centered on duality, as we shall see.

First song "The Best Years" has an infectious, purposeful feel to it, marching at the listener with all the sonic equivalence of the legendary scene from Rocky (1976) of Sylvester Stallone jogging along desolate suburban Philadelphia, PA streets throwing punches at the air ahead. Except, of course, the setting would actually be the scenic Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, UK, which Heights call home. Pounding drums in medium tempo, resolute, crunchy power-chords mingling with those resonant melodies that are so characteristic to melodic hardcore, and spiteful screams immediately awaken similarities to their countrymen While She Sleeps, in particular - both instrumentally, and in the sense that the songs that comprise "Old Lies for Young Lives" juxtapose hope and despair whilst never forcing the listener too far into either emotion. In the excellent "March 1964", for instance, vocalist Alex Monty almost schizophrenically sways between the empowering "Mother, Father / Build my own wall / I wanna start a revolution / Because I want it all" and the disheartening "Who could I have been? / What could I have done? This is the March of 1964 / I could have been so much more" whilst guitarists Dan Richardson and Tom Green plummet from a fists-in-the-air riff into a huge, but no less dispirited bridge. The song, by virtue of this contrast and the seamless manner in which the musicians segue between the opposing elements, is one of the best on the album, and representative of the distance Heights have come since the crushing simplicity of their debut ablum "Dead Ends" despite waving goodbye to ex-vocalist Thomas Debaere and replacing him with then-bassist Monty.

This change was not received with unanimous enthusiasm by the band's fanbase - not least because the difference between the two singers' style is quite significant (the difference is accentuated by the cleanly played, and partially cleanly sung "Wake Up, Fall Asleep", in which Heights experiment with blending the wave variant of hardcore with the softer stuff Architects have composed every now and then, and ice it with orchestral grandeur), and, as Monty has not embraced his new role to the full extent as per yet, the lyrics here tend to be somewhat less articulate than those of his predecessor. It must be said, however, that from virtually every other perspective, "Old Lies for Young Lives" is much the superior piece of music; richer in texture and written with more in mind than simply to drive people into a moshing frenzy. There are songs like that on here, too: "The Noble Lie" and "Stray Rats". But inevitably, when sat next to tracks more imaginative (the prog-hardcore piece "Forth / Here") and more melodic ("Eleven Eyes"), they emerge as the weakest links on an album where the only other complaints are the invariance, with a few exceptions, between the individual songs, and Heights' inability to truly distinguish themselves from the enormous amount of bands practicing in the melodic hardcore genre already.


Download: The Best Years; Eleven Eyes; March 1964; Wake Up, Fall Asleep; Forth / Here
For the fans of: Hundredth, Landscapes, While She Sleeps
Listen: Facebook

Release date 29.04.2013
Transcend Music

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