Highrider prove themselves to be sonic alchemists of a very high order on their debut album Roll For Initiative, creating an alloy of metal and rock ingredients that gleams like a rare jewel. The album will be released on September 15th (tomorrow!) by The Sign Records, and we have the great pleasure of sharing a full stream with you today.
The vibrant mix of styles in Highrider’s formula is fascinating. You can readily pick out the influences as you make your way through the album, but what you probably couldn’t have predicted is how creatively and seamlessly Highrider blend them together in every song. The music is thus both pleasingly familiar and marvelously unique — and it’s also massively infectious.
It’s one thing to tick off the elements that go into this Gothenburg band’s magic recipes, but it’s a more difficult task to capture in words what makes the result so powerfully electrifying, so dynamic, and so irresistibly seductive. Of course, that won’t stop me from trying.
If there’s a backbone or core to the music, it’s probably thrash — a heavy, blood-rushing brand of thrash that Highrider go to when they want to punch the gas pedal in your head. The thrash-oriented riffs are damned catchy, but the band also incorporate the anthemic melodic qualities of bands like Maiden and Priest, along with an air of occult mystery and paranormal horror, thanks largely to the judicious use of eerie keyboard shimmering and retro organ embellishments.
But that list still doesn’t exhaust the band’s storehouse of musical weaponry. Highrider also often tinge their melodies with the ominous and anguished strains of doom, and they also send their crescendos soaring into the stratosphere with arena-ready extended guitar solos that themselves display wonderful dynamism and immaculate fluency.
All the songs are jam-packed with huge melodic hooks, epic choruses, dynamic changes of rhythm and tempo, a knack for knowing when to deliver riffs designed to trigger headbanging, and an equally good instinct for when to ease back on the throttle and drag the listener into a staggering dirge that moans and groans with grief and despair.
There’s one more ingredient, and it’s a critical one, but also perhaps the most surprising one. You could imagine a broad array of vocals working with these songs, from harsh growls or cauterizing shrieks to soaring clean vocals. But what you get from Highrider are the feral, jugular-shredding yells and screams of a street-fighting punk, sometimes with the vocal tracks doubled to deliver gang yells. And there are punk and hardcore vibes in some of the music’s changing rhythms as well.
The choice of vocal style is important, and works so well here, because they give these powerhouse songs an extra edge of violence, fury, and destructiveness. It’s one more distinct infusion into a genre mix that in less assured hands could result in a clash, but instead just further burnishes the music into heavy metal gold.
As I listened to these songs I had flashes not only of Maiden and Priest and Metallica, but also Ghost and Kvelertak — though Highrider don’t really sound like any of those bands. You’ll probably get flashes of still other bands, but in the end, you’ll probably conclude, as I did, that what Highrider really sound like is only Highrider.
The songs are well-written; they get stuck in the head; they’re performed with top-shelf skill; they’re produced in a way that delivers clarity and power. And whether Highrider are charging ahead like a big rushing freight train, or acting as executioners, marching you solemnly and ominously to the gallows or the chopping block (which is how I think of the album’s final track), they’re in command. As they say in the trade, Roll For Initiative is all killer, no filler.
Highrider Live Dates:
22.9 DE Lübeck
23.9 PL Wroclaw
24.9 SLK Poprad
25.9 CZE Brno
26.9 CZE Prag
27.9 DE Berlin
28.9 DE Hannover
29.9 DE Hamburg
30.9 DE Flensburg