Sep 082011

(NCS writer BadWolf reviews the new album from Chicago’s High Spirits, one of the many projects of Chris Black (aka Dawnbringer).)

As I sit here, there’s a million things I should be listening to: brushing up on my beardo/nerdo metal in preparation for SUCKFEST ’11, putting together my Norwegian Hardcore playlist for Invisible Oranges, and brushing up on my Enslaved for their upcoming tour with Alcest and Ghost, not to mention the loads of promo records clogging my inbox.

None of those has factored in for the past 6 days thanks to Another Night, the debut record by Chicago’s High Spirits. This piece of self-released, Neo-Traditional metal awesomeness has possessed my iPod harder than Pazuzu possessed Linda fuckin Blair.

“The power of ‘Core compels you, the power of ‘Core compels you.” I scream at the little glowing screen… and then I listen to “Full Power” one more time. 45 repeats in 6 days. I need help. Islander—this is my vote for catchiest song of the year.

Don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a one-song record. Hell no. Another Night is a 40-minute nostalgia trip that delivers. No concepts, no conceits, no bullshit. Just good times and hard rocking.

Then again, that shouldn’t come as a surprise—High Spirits is (in studio) a one-man project of Chicago metal royalty Chris Black. This man is an absolute beast. He writes lyrics for Nachtmystium when he’s not writing every instrument for High Spirits and another little project called Dawnbringer. (more after the jump . . .)

Do you remember Dawnbringer? You should. Last year Black released an amazing record called Nucleus through Profound Lore under that moniker—it’s one of 2010’s most enduring keepsakes for me. High Spirits is equal in quality, but distinct in direction. Both projects burst with neo-traditional riffage and soaring vocals, but where Dawnbringer was dark and morose High Spirits is full of youthful exuberance.  High Spirits is what metal once was: a party record. Sugar-coated and sour at the core, this is a precious treat—the sweet chaser for the hard shot that was last year’s Nucleus.

Another Night is unadulterated 80’s speed/glam metal worship from the beautiful cover (allusions to Duran Duran meet a photograph of Chi-town’s most illuminated skyline—ah nostalgia) to Black’s penchant for multi-tracked falsetto harmonies, 4/4 vamp riffs and harmonized solos. Speaking as  a man who appreciates the finer points of Skid Row, Cinderella and especially Motley Crue, this record hits the spot in a way only Danko Jones does, except while remaining 100% metal at all times.

Black does not miss an opportunity to capitalize on 80’s metals strengths while correcting their mistakes as well. Instead of comical chauvinism, his lyrics are either inspiring or touching. Take, for example, my favorite passage from the aforementioned “Full Power:”

“If I was you
What I would do
Is anything I wanted to
Just do my friend
What you intend
And you may find that you can do it right
All night – At full power – FULL POWER!”

Cheesy? Absolutely. Awesome? Fuckin A’ Right.

Meanwhile, “Do You Remember?”, “Where Did I Go Wrong?” and “You Make Love Impossible” basically exist to be thrown in the face of any pan-haired Bon Iver fan that may dare insist that metal is incapable of sincerity or romanticism. Do me a favor: throw them hard and follow through on your pitch.

Oh, and while you’re at it—buy this record instead of downloading it. Black has self-released this puppy and he deserves all the proceeds he can get.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The album is available from Amazon mp3 and also from CM Distro. Time to rock dee fuck out: Here’s “Full Power”.

[audio:|titles=High Spirits – Full Power]

  8 Responses to “HIGH SPIRITS: “ANOTHER NIGHT””

  1. High Spirits kicks ass. Anyone who says you should be listening to something else is wrong and should be kicked in the face.

  2. Yep, that song was fucking catchy and awesome as the rhinovirus modified to give you superpowers.

  3. While I extremely appreciated your “are cats metal?” blog post and we are great and fast friends with both Chris Black and High Spirits I couldn’t help but notice that the photo you used in this article is actually of Bible of the Devil playing live(and looking very handsome) at Quenchers in Chicago around 5 years ago. Its kinda hilarious to both bands right now since we recently toured together. Just sayin’. Also, have you seen the Metal Dudes Catbook on facebook?

    • Check the picture again. I saw the first one I used by googling Chris Black (because I don’t know what he looks like), and stared at that stage shot trying to decide if that was really him. One more fuck-up to add to my list. I’m pretty sure the photo I substituted is him. Yes?

    • Oh, and I did see The Metal Dudes Catbook page on facebook after you mentioned it previously.

  4. Yep, thats him. You gotta see these guys live!

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