Saturday 4 June 2016

High Fighter - Scars & Crosses (Album Review)

Release date: June 10th 2016. Label: Svart Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Scars & Crosses – Tracklisting

A Silver Heart
Darkest Days
The Gatekeeper
Portrait Mind
Down To The Sky
Scars & Crosses

Band Members:

Mona Miluski – vocals
Christian "Shi" Pappas – guitar
Ingwer Boysen – guitar
Constantin Wüst – bass
Thomas Wildelau - drums & backing vocals


High Fighter’s debut album – Scars and Crosses, is finally upon us. The band has been teasing us recently with little snippets of audio and video to get you in the mood their heavy onslaught of Sludge/Stoner Metal riffs with a hefty sideline in dirty Blues Rock vibes.

So what can we expect from Scars And Crosses. Well if you enjoyed their debut EP – The Goat Ritual – then expect more of the same but with a more progressive and heavier feel. High Fighter have managed to persuade legendary Producer/Recording Mixer – Toshi Kasai – to master and mix this album. And the results are heavy, precise and brutal through out.

Opening track – A Silver Heart starts rather slowly before High Fighter add a deliberate and menacing atmosphere. The instrumental work flows with expert delivery as the band change musical directions throughout the song. The atmosphere becomes harsher courtesy of lead singer – Mona’s sinister vocals. Mona’s vocals undergo a complete transformation on this song as you hear and feel every ounce of anger that she possess. Soulful and blissful blues inspired vocals gives way to Death based growls. I’ve been a fan of Mona’s ever since her A Million Miles days; I’ve never heard Mona this angry or focused before. You better get used to this as Mona gives it her all with an action packed and intense performance.

Second track – Darkest Days – is a soulful song built on fast-paced Sludge/Stoner Metal riffs and Mona’s superb vocals. The band is very hard to categorize. One minute they’re playing blues inspired Stoner Rock/Metal and the next they change to a heavier style of Sludge/Doom Metal. That’s the beauty of High Fighter’s sound; they have this ability to sound ever so soulful but they can change the mood into something more sinister by playing a gloomier note or riff.

Third track – The Gatekeeper – sees High Fighter becoming ever more confident with their Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal hybrid sound. Things take a more psychedelic turn with shades of Occult based Rock appearing here and there. It’s perhaps one the albums standout tracks as the and opt for a more experimental sound.

The rest of the album follows the same path of heavy blues rock inspired Sludge/Stoner Metal merged with a highly atmospheric Doom Metal vibe. If you need further evidence of other great songs to check out then I’ll recommend: Blinders, Gods and the excellent title track – Scars & Crosses. As High Fighter keep the mood and tone of the album remarkably fresh.
The album is superbly produced from start to finish. I’ve been championing High Fighter for a couple of years now and it’s hugely satisfying to see all their hard work pay off with such a stunning debut album.

High Fighter are going to make some waves in the Sludge/Stoner Metal community with Scars & Crosses. Mona may receive the lion’s share of the praise for her intense vocal performance but you’ve got to give credit to the rest of the band (Christian, Ingwer, Constantin and Thomas) as well for creating the excellent music you hear throughout.

Scars & Crosses will no doubt end-up on a few best albums of 2016 lists. It’s already been guaranteed a place on mine. Scars & Crosses is a must have album. Just for fun, I’m going to include my first mini-review I did for the album as the band kindly asked me to write a small review for the press release of the album.

"It sounds intense. It's even heavier than The Goat Ritual. The riffs will simply crush your skull and Mona's vocals are perhaps the heaviest they have ever been. So watch out....

High Fighter are going to surprise a lot of people when they release their new album. It has the potential to being one of the best debut albums of 2016. So if you're into Doom, Blues, Sludge, Stoner and Heavy Metal then look no further as HIGH FIGHTER have it all and are ready to KICK ASS to show the world what they can do!"

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Mona, High Fighter and Svart Records for the promo. Scars & Crosses will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Svart Records from June 10th 2016.