Heights - The Land, The Ocean, The Distance
Nick Lewis 20/02/2010
Before we begin, a few notes on screaming: screaming is generally used to express anger or fear, or any other extreme end of a negative emotion. The human voice is not designed to cope with it, demonstrable by the damage to the vocal cords that occurs when an individual may indulge in too much of it. Broadly speaking it evokes a feeling of distress in someone subjected to it either in sympathy or fear.
Thomas of Heights would do well to take heed of these observations and question a) why he would want to subject anyone to so much of it and b) what it is that's troubling him so much. Aristotelian theories of katharsis aside, perhaps counselling would be a better option? It would certainly damage your poor vocals cords less dear Thomas.
Make no mistake, this a hardcore EP of epic proportions, the likes of which only seem to emerge from such off-the-beaten-track localities as Welwyn Garden City (Hertfordshire) where Heights originate from. What this means is a lot of massive, crunching guitars, lots of double bass drum pedalling, Adrenaline era Deftones stabs, and echoes of Sepultura. What Heights do commendably different is inject a post-rock sense of beauty and melody in between the crushing stampedes of noise - usually with clean, electro drums, soaring tremolo guitars and synth strings. Every song ends with an infectious mass chant of some sort, suggesting that these songs are actually pretty decent underneath all the shouting. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if the shouting were replaced with some singing (I'd even settle for that American emo/hardcore style that crops up here every now and again) this would be an enjoyable listen.
However, until the dawn of a new music format allowing me to overdub my own vocals (it's coming) the screaming/shouting is here to stay, leaving me feeling decidedly distressed and in dire need of a nice cup of green tea and a good half hour of Radio 4.
In summary - more excellent drum machine bits with epic strings and tremolo guitars. Keep the outstandingly lovely artwork, the chanty bits and even the chunky riffs. Lose the shouting and whatever reason there is for doing it; then we just might have something.