"Another Night"

By Dr. Abner Mality

High Spirits returns with another try at recreating the feel of heavy metal in the years 1977-1982, just before thrash started to break. And again the band accomplishes their mission of creating songs that are definitely metal but feature much more melody and songcraft than we're used to hearing in this day and age.

"Another Night" leaves me with strange feelings. I can't deny for a minute that I really like these guys and what they're trying to do, but I'm starting to feel that it's all a bit contrived. Take a look at the circa 1978 cover art of the Chicago skyline and even the font of the album title. Even bland, basic song titles such as "Going Up", "Do You Remember" and "Full Power" seem to shove " we are REALLY trying to be pre-1980!" in your face. Despite claims that High Spirits' music happens "naturally", to me it seems they are working overtime to create that 77 to 82 era...maybe a little too much.

The songs, as always, tell the story and they are an energetic, smooth sounding lot.  If I had to get specific about the sound of High Spirits, it mixes NWOBHM influences like Angelwitch, very early Maiden and even Def Leppard's "On Through The Night" (great metal album many forget about today) with something like a harder American AOR influence. Vocalist Chris Black won't blow any doors off with his reedy, somewhat plain voice, but it's what he does with that voice that counts and here he wraps it around a lot of very memorable vocal hooks such as "Demons At The Door", the fast charging "Full Power" and the gritty, more hard rock oriented "You Make Love Impossible". The emphasis on catchy vocal lines distinguishes High Spirits from many other "retro-metal" bands and is one of their strongest aspects.

I felt "Another Night" lost some force in the second half of the record and tunes like "Where Did I Go Wrong" and "Nights In Black" don't sound as strong as those that opened the album.  When I listen to the band's self-titled debut, it seems a bit heavier and more direct to me. But the complaints are minor and High Spirits has once again unveiled an almost pristine jewel of classic, highly melodic metal.