ARTIST: HIGH RISE
WORDS: JOE ARNOLD
‘Endeavours‘, the third EP by London-based Metalcore band High Rise, is a very well-crafted experience. Clocking in at a lean twenty minutes, neither the album as a whole or any of its tracks outstay their welcome, and the group uses this time to indulge effectively in several different approaches to songwriting without sacrificing their unique character.
Opening track ‘My Solitude, Your Hope’ pitches High Rise’s tent firmly in the camp of modern Melodic Hardcore defined by bands such as The Ghost Inside. Opening with a tense build-up of palm muted guitars and rolling drums, the song explodes into a strong mid-tempo groove and a brutal power chord guitar riff for its verse before a chorus that strikes just the right balance between crushing heaviness and uplifting melody. When the inevitable breakdowns arrive they are strong; featuring tight interplay between chugging power chords and caustic, discordant lead guitar. Although structurally very standard for its genre, this is an excellent opening track that does well to introduce High Rise’s sound to new listeners, and serves well as a jumping-off point for the more varied styles of the subsequent songs.
“it is clear that High Rise have honed their skills to a point at which it is hard to criticise ‘Endeavours’.”
These different approaches include the more fast-paced Hardcore of tracks such as ‘Haunting Me’ and ‘The Fight’ as well as the almost ballad-like ‘Endeavours’. After this track’s noisy intro, High Rise slam on the brakes for a quiet verse/ loud chorus structure with a swinging rhythm. Vocalist Jovic Staddon takes a more restrained approach here; only unleashing his usual screaming at the climax of the song and instead using his strong clean vocals throughout to craft an emotionally compelling experience with a big finish. The whole band succeeds in experimenting with a different sound on this track without sacrificing their characteristic heaviness.
Instrumental performances are strong throughout the EP, but the clear highlight is the vocals. Staddon’s screams are excellent and are able to convey a lot of emotion while maintaining heaviness. But the real highlights are the album’s anthemic choruses, which feature excellent melodies and an intonation reminiscent of Alexisonfire’s Dallas Green. All five songs on ‘Endeavours‘ feature strong work from guitarists Tom Thain and Ricky Gurung, who create crushing heaviness throughout without often resorting to simple chugging. Instead, most songs are built around power chord riffs in the style of more old school Hardcore bands. Lead riffs are also used well to create melody in appropriate places and often get fairly technical during breakdowns. Clean guitars also surface occasionally to add a nice texture and atmosphere to the EP’s more restrained moments. The rhythm section is unfortunately rather unspectacular, however. Although Jon Pickard’s drumming is always solid, it never really does anything special enough to become engaging in its own right. Similarly, Ryan Becket’s bass never really gets a chance to shine and is almost inaudible through most of the album. Neither performance is weak per se, but both could have used a bit more work to grab some of the limelight.
Three EPs into their career, it is clear that High Rise have honed their skills to a point at which it is hard to criticise ‘Endeavours’. All five songs are strong in their own right and all stand out from the others through their own unique styles. None of the band’s members turn in a bad performance on any of the tracks, and some are excellent. The only real fault of the album is that the drums and especially the bass need more development in order to match up to the much stronger performances on guitars and vocals. Above all, this is simply a damn good EP. Who could ask for more?