For Fans Of
Heights blasted their way out of the UK underground with their forward thinking take on hardcore, and they have been backing it up ever since with heavy touring, including a run of Australian dates this past February. I was a big fan of their debut EP The Land, The Ocean, The Distance, which showcased an aggressive take on metalcore complemented by complex, layered melodies and a diverse sound that edged into post-metal territory. Now, this young band have returned with their debut album, and let me tell you it was with some high hopes I cracked open Dead Ends to taste the warm gooey sounds inside.
The album is opened with the sparse chords of We Live Alone, and closed in much the same manner with the haunting piano melody of on …And That’s How We Die. These linked tracks bring to mind the short acoustic bookends on Pink Floyd’s Animals album, and are perhaps the first hint this isn’t your average hardcore record. After the album opener, the band jump straight into lead single Eye for an Eye. This track opens up with aggressive metallic riffery, a paint-stripping vocal delivery and a strong, memorable chorus (no cleaning singing to be found here though). A couple of minutes in, things start to get weird. The riffs slow to a crawling pace while Thomas Debaere continues shouting his head off, and soon the guitars swell into a tremolo-picked, melodic crescendo, in a bridge that wouldn’t sound out of place on a record by a post-metal act such as Jesu or Cult of Luna.
The band have pushed up the heaviness quotient several notches from their debut EP, and most of the album is spent with heavy riffs and chunky rhythms spitting out the speakers. It’s a shame, because while the band certainly know how to pull off a nasty riff, the most goose-bump inducing moments on the album are inevitably found when the riffs take a backseat to the momentous, soaring melodies that Heights do so well. The band don’t seem to be playing to their strengths.
The constantly harsh delivery notwithstanding, the vocal parts are put together in a very thoughtful way, with Thomas Debaere’s spitting out the desperate lyrics with savage conviction. The man has a huge voice that carries the band’s move into heavier territory perfectly. As mentioned earlier, there are no clean vocals, but the album makes occasional use of gang vocals, which are used sensibly to complement the song and lyrics. Jonathan Vigil of Cali hardcore act The Ghost Inside makes a guest vocal spot on The Lost And Alone, and of course, fucking destroys.
Heights are a UK band who make heavy metallic hardcore which at first glance is difficult to categorise, sitting somewhere between hardcore and post-metal. With this release they focus on the heavier side of their sound, and their melodic side takes a back seat. The album is impeccably produced and played, yet to me doesn’t inspire as many repeat listens as their EP did. Pick this up if you want to hear intelligently written hardcore that hits like a sledgehammer.
1. We Live Alone
2. Eye for an Eye
4. Letting Go
5. The Lost and Alone
7. Beneath the Skin
8. Dead Ends
10. …And That’s How We Die