For Fans Of
If you had a gun put to your head and were given the life-or-death task to get someone into hardcore music with just a single band, you’d be best off putting your life in the firm grasp of Higher Power. The 90’s-aping music behind this Leeds hardcore punk rock group is a great balance of gritty hardcore and bouncy riffs, moulded with super catchy, easy-to-digest vocals that make these guys so easy to love right from the get-go. If I was given time to properly introduce someone to this kind of music, I’d personally start them off with ‘27 Miles Underwater,’ or some lighter post-hardcore or pop-punk bands and over time, slowly ease them into heavier works, so that before you know it, they’ll be sweating Knocked Loose, Year of the Knife, and Jesus Piece. But it would all start with this record. From the groovy guitars and hard-hitting, gnarly instrumentals a la Incendiary, to incredibly uplifting Silverchair and Nirvana-esque rock choruses that still have loads of grit found on their surfaces, ‘27 Miles Underwater‘ will get anyone shouting and jumping along in no time flat.
‘27 Miles Underwater‘ will be the record that will convince any of your naïve friends that hardcore and punk aren’t just some tasteless genres that are only ever aggressive simply for the sake of being edgy. This new LP shows that it can be a really fun, catchy and nostalgic escape. From the second that ‘Seamless‘ begins, its made clear that this thing is going to come out swinging hard for its entire length. This wild, rocking opening track contains one of the record’s catchiest choruses as it’s destructive secret weapon; a refrain that is permanently stuck in my head. Thanks, Higher Power!
The harmonic-ridden riffage of ‘Shedding Skin‘ shows how to tastefully write a song based around a central riff that relies on plenty of harmonics without it ever being annoying. (After the Burial, take note). The jumpy, guitar-shredding ‘King Of My Domain‘ is a metal-orientated take on Turnstile’s sound in all but name and is mighty fun to boot. A real change in pace comes in the form ‘In The Meantime,’ starting off as a soft little acoustic ballad, but once the full band comes in, it returns to the jangly, gnarly hardcore-grunge sound that encompasses the record.
I’d say the top half of this record stuck with me the most, as I was grooving and moving to these songs with reckless abandon, as they were non-stop infectious, rock’n’roll mayhem. Tracks like ‘Shedding Skin,’ ‘Lost in Static,’ ‘Rewire (101),’ and ‘Passenger‘ were the songs that resonated with me the most, making me wish that I was cruising on a warm summer day with the car windows down just being content with my surroundings and this hybrid of 90’s hardcore and grungy alt-rock music that teleported me back in time 20 years. In all honesty, ‘27 Miles Underwater‘ just made me feel like I was younger, bringing me back to my angsty days, without the cringe of thinking: “Oh god, why did I do that!?”
However, the rest of Higher Power’s latest didn’t necessarily explore any new ground, as its back half tends to play it very safe with the predictable song structures and vocal lines that become a little bit annoying after too many repeated listens. But then again, if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. This kind of music is made to get right to the point of the songs, of the messages, and Higher Power most certainly succeeded at that goal.
Just like my review, short and sweet is exactly what ’27 Miles Underwater’ is. Via its satisfying polymerization of ’90s hardcore punk and grunge/alternative rock, it gets right to the point and doesn’t hold anything back. There is a fantastic ebb and flow between the fast-paced distorted riffs, bouncy drum fills, and vocals that tiptoe around harsh or cleaner sung vocals, straddling the line between being a great entry-level, gateway record into these styles for those just coming into alt and heavy music, and giving something enjoyable, riffy and catchy to well-verses hardcore and rock aficionados. If this feel-good jam doesn’t make you want to move, then you ain’t paying close enough attention, because the energy on this record is undeniably infectious. So relax, that gun is no longer held to your head.
02. Shedding Skin
03. Lost In Static
04. Rewire (101)
05. Low Season
07. King Of My Domain
08. In The Meantime
09. Staring At The Sun
10. Self-Rendered_ Lost
11. Drag The Line
’27 Miles Underwater’ is out now: