Highness - Hold
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Record Label: Magic Bullet
It’s no secret that I am in love with Eric Richter’s voice. It’s one of the things that drew me to his old band Christie Front Drive. (Just one though, the whole band’s great.) So when I heard that his latest music endeavor, Highness, had an album up for free download on PureVolume, I downloaded the whole thing without even a first listen.
Opener “Gaea (Strings)” begins with a pounding drumbeat and driving guitars until the vocals come in and the song quiets down slightly. As expected, he kills it here, his serene and melodic voice fitting the music perfectly. The song’s chorus sounds vaguely like the last verse of Christie Front Drive’s “November,” although to compare the two bands wouldn’t necessarily be fair. While Christie Front Drive had more of a straight-up emo sound, Highness borrows from emo, indie rock, progressive rock, and even post-hardcore (“Stitched Together”). The soothing “If You Found Out, I Would Stay” follows, slower and softer than the opener, but no less enjoyable. The song features a simple and repetitive (not in a bad way) guitar riff through the first two minutes before the track crescendos into a cacophony of snare hits and croons of, “Carousel, spin you, turn away/ no one else can make you feel this way.”
As mentioned previously, “Stitched Together” is heavier than anything else on this album (or, to my knowledge, anything else Richter’s lent his magnificent vocals to). But if you doubt how the band could hold up performing this way, just remember Highness also features former members of pg.99 and City of Caterpillar. Richter holds (pun intended) up his end here to, proving himself a surprisingly adept yeller. This is followed by the first of two instrumental interludes, “Forking Roads.” The track is calm and melodic, a nice breath after its angular predecessor. The next track is the longest, titled “We’re All We Need.” Similarly to “Gaea,” it starts off quietly before picking up to a loud chorus. It features an ethereal bridge and false ending that leads into some simple yet pretty guitar plucking.
“Crepuscular Rays,” aside from just having a cool title, features masterful drumwork in its intro and impressive riffs in its bridge. The next instrumental follows and leads into possibly the album’s standout. The first two minutes of “You Know Everything | God” are quiet, fading in from the prior song. The music again is simple, yet compliments the vocals very well. Nearly two minutes in enter the drums and the song explodes. “Thank God/ you know everything/ but tonight/ we box them in,” sings Richter over cymbal crashes. The song also features Highness at their most experimental, with a rather industrial-sounding two-minute outro to lead into the forty second closer, which features minimal instrumentation and echoey vocals.
Highness’ debut Hold is an impressive album, especially for a debut. But being made up of such renowned musician, that’s to be expected. And it follows through.