JOHNNY LOKKE "Promises and Lies"

HIGH SPIRITS "Let's Rock/Running Home"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Heavy metal is hanging in there pretty tough against the dozens of sub-genres it has spawned. I'm talking about "REAL" heavy metal, not thrash, emo, doom, etc. If you need to be reminded what this sounded like, Chicago's High Spirits have a single out that will refresh your memory in a hurry. Led by Chris Black of Pharoah, Superchrist, Dawnbringer and who knows what else, this band can do no wrong and their two tracks "Let's Rock" and "Running Home" pack more power, melody and balls in their brief length than most albums. It's a combination of pacey old NWOBHM style like Parallex, Jaguar, Tygers of Pan Tang and more obscure acts with an American hard rock feeling. The song titles were obviously chosen to be as generic as possible, in the fashion of late 70's rockers, but that's no impediment. I almost never talk about singles here so the fact that High Spirits are recommended for theirs here tells you how highly I regard it. Pick it up.

High Spirits I knew were going to be good, but I was completely unfamiliar with the name of Johnny Lokke before hearing "Promises and Lies". I'll be damned, but this is gonna be one of my favorite "real metal" discs of the year. I was kind of expecting something like Europe or, sir, Mr. Lokke and friends play mean and muscular metal with a super beefy sound and no superfluous ballads. Whether it's mid-tempo crunchers like "Scarred For Life and "Starchasers" or high energy ass-kickers like "Heal Me", "Burning the Wheel" and the screaming "Obsession", this guy delivers the goods. I am reminded of a combination of Judas Priest with Jorn Lande's heaviest stuff. Not only does Johnny shred the axe, but his vocals can go from King Diamond shrieks to smokier tones like Jorn. The originality factor is nil, but fuck that, this is HEAVY METAL and it's something to be celebrated.