For Fans Of
Having previously released an ARIA-nominated album, it should come as no surprise that Melbourne four-piece High Tension have been facing anticipation for a new record from their dedicated local following. Sophomore follow-up ‘Bully’ suits up and satisfies, being equally good, if not better, than its predecessor. A rock-solid offering from top to bottom, it acts as a refined, admirable work that expands High Tension’s territory while alternatively twisting hardcore and punk, resulting in a fun, furious ride.
The whole album disperses an intense aggression throughout each song, with eponymous starter ‘Bully’ kicking it off. Even from its beginning, the release has the capacity to make its instrumentals sound like they’re having a nervous breakdown, crashing into each other to intentionally construct a listenable chaos. Likewise, apoplectic ‘Iceman’ posits rapid guitars that play together in a blur. ‘Sports’ provides reinforcements with its razor-sharp rhythms and the ability of frontwoman Karina Utomo’s vocals to dance between clean emotions that draw parallels to other locals Mere Women and the bite of any good screamer you can note out of the scene. Speaking of the scene, High Tension roped in both Matt Young of King Parrot and Adalita for this recording and for fans of those acts, it’s definitely worth a listen.
Even though it’s likely that the band got a production upgrade on this LP, rest assured that these songs still sound raw and real, like they’re being performed in the same room as you. To High Tension’s credit, the sincere quality of a live show is retained in the recording of ‘Bully’. The most effective exhibition of that is on ‘Take Control’. It captures the band’s more experimental dynamic unquestionably well. With drums more amplified than its vocals as the song winds up, it sounds like Utomo is intending to play it as quietly as possible, creating a suspense thick enough to slice through with a blade. The power-relinquishing and vulnerable tune eventually explodes, and it’s a fire-cracker.
Interestingly, two-minute closer ‘What’s Left’ shuts the album’s door by toying with melodic components that prompt subtle pop recollections and a high-gear angst. Though short, it encompasses what this whole album actually does; it genuinely tosses genre techniques in a blender to produce a body of believable Australian punk and hardcore. Tasty.
The title of this LP, ‘Bully’, is accurate in the sense that it’s an aggressor. It takes no prisoners, driving its assertive brand of hardcore punk forward unapologetically. A more mature High Tension have produced a record that dishes out confident punches, sometimes quietly but mostly not.
4. Killed By Life
7. Hell, Repeat
8. Take Control
9. Mass Grave
10. Static Screens
11. Lucky Country (PT. 2)
12. What’s Left