For Fans Of
High Tension, a band formed by two members of disco-punk band Young & Restless, Karina Utomo and Ash Pegram (along with members of The Nation Blue), have received a reasonable amount of online hype and triple j success prior to the release of their debut full-length.
But has the band released an album that will live up to this?
While it’s largely rhetorical, in short— yes. And if they haven’t, then surely they’re pretty damn close.
‘Blaze Up’ provides an uncertain start when the vocals seem to be working on a different level to the instruments. The backing is more bass oriented and far off whereas the vocals are higher-pitched and placed right in the fore. The two, almost polar opposites, feel as if they conflict and are a bit uncomfortable. The solo lead that comes in close to the end, bridges the gap a little bit, but still, for the most part, this track comes with a feeling of unease.
This imbalance is resolved, enough to not feel uncomfortable, in ‘Positive’. The track is held together by an endless middle-range riff that Karina shrieks over in a variant manner. As a whole, the song gets things on the right track and establishes a more assured sound that is followed through.
This sound includes a good sense of give and take to keep things balanced. ‘Astral Plane‘, for instance, begins intentionally deadpan. The choice allows the instrument and vocal builds to burst forth between each return to the flatness of the beginning. ‘Without U.S.’, a possible dig at America, does a similar thing, paring back vocals to bring forward the instruments, only to have a full kick-in halfway through.
Title track, ‘Death Beat’ can be a little cumbersome at first, but the level of intensity increases as things move along. The track is brought to a halt, however, as it falls back to its earlier self and the momentum slows. This is then broken by a heavily distorted guitar line, which leads to a great extensive breakdown-like sequence.
‘Are You Safe’ wraps things up with one final bout of screams, advancing instruments, and some small portions of poppier vocals. It is short-lived and simple, and serves well as a brief amalgamation of the range of sounds presented on the album.
A promising debut for High Tension. Although coming off a bit uncertain at the start, once the band finds their ground they offer a fair and satisfying amount of variation within their signature hardcore punk.
1. Blaze Up
4. High Risk High Rewards
5. Astral Plane
6. Without U.S.
7. Mountain of Dead
9. Your Mates
10. Death Beat
11. Are You Safe