REVIEW: HIGH FIGHTER – “Scars And Crosses”
High Fighter’s journey began in 2014 when members of A Million Miles, Buffalo Hump and Pyogenesis got together to deliver some sludge/doom/stoner metal. The band’s first significant output was ‘Goat Ritual’, a five-track self-released EP consisting of sludge/doom/stoner rock. High Fighter recently released their debut full-length ‘Scars and Crosses’ which is heavier, more progressive and more precise than their previous release. The top-notch mixing and mastering has been done by the well-known producer Toshi Kasai. The album is a stunning odyssey of doomy, heavy and bluesy musical experiences, both entertaining and intense- a nice portrayal of the ability of the musicians to complement each other’s wide creative capacity.
The most significant aspect of the album are Mona Miluski’s awe-inspiring vocals which showcase great diversity as she switches from beautiful cleans to guttural growls, brutal screams and back- the wide range of her voice throwing in wonderful surprise elements to the final output.
The opening track “A Silver Heart” starts with a mellow feel. The well thought-out instrumentation provides a memorable build-up, driven by the transition in vocals from bluesy and soulful to fierce growls to intensify the atmosphere of the song. The second song “Darkest Days” is one of the finest on the album. The song features soulful elements like the psychedelic approach in the ‘wah’ guitar work, a beautiful bass tone and memorable vocal lines. What truly renders High Fighter’s music unique is their ability to generate multiple thought processes in the listener in a single journey. The shifts in atmosphere are musically sound and carefully thought-out. For the most part, the album puts forth the glory of heavy blues rock and doom around the crux of sludge/stoner metal.
The third track “The Gatekeeper” is a confident one which establishes its statement with its blend of doom/sludge/stoner metal and psychedelic, speaking of the band’s experimental edge. “Blinders” and “Portrait Mind” are driven mostly by the rhythmic grooves. “Portrait Mind” features solid clean vocals- a nice contrast to the overall earthy sound and a noteworthy guitar solo. “Gods” and “Down to the Sky” however, sound quite similar and don’t create an impact as strong as the other songs. “Gods” adopts a rather simple approach instrumentally, leaving a lot of scope for the vocals, which sadly don’t seem to take off to the fullest either, while “Down to the Sky” is kept going with some nice guitar work. Both songs somehow speak of unfulfilled compositional potential. Thankfully, the final track “Scars and Crosses” provides a perfect finish to the album. It is a wonderful composition which explores new dimensions in elements of heavy blues and industrial rock, upbeat pace and intense doom chords.
All in all, this album is a confident amalgamation of styles accomplished by mood and pace shifts, epic riffs, bluesy guitar solos, psychedelic elements, and most importantly, fierce vocals- all around the crux of sludge/doom/stoner metal.