Highpriest - Shift

There was an editorial on MetalSucks a couple of years ago that made the argument that metal vocalists were becoming irrelevant. I had just seen Russian Circles live for the first time a few days before, so I found myself readily agreeing with a lot of the points being made in the piece. As I’ve sought out and listened to more instru/post-metal, though, I no longer find myself so readily agreeing with Mr. Neilstein’s thesis. For starters, instrumental metal as a genre has its inherent flaws; for every The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw there are probably at least a hundred albums that are essentially background music. Plus, while there are some bands whose music is just as enjoyable sans vocals—the Ocean Collective immediately come to mind, since they have released instrumental versions of some of their albums—there are a lot of albums I really love that would likely be pretty boring with the vocals taken away.  All of which is really just a long-winded way of saying that it’s not easy to make compelling instru-metal…

Baltimore duo Highpriest make very compelling instru-metal, and they do it in a way that I’ve not really heard before. Their debut EP Shift takes some of the hallmarks of post-metal and infuses them with a 70’s AOR vibe that really works. The end result isn’t the heaviest post-metal album I’ve ever heard, but their use of clean guitar tones is especially effective. Opener “The Point Between” sets the tone with some nice Thin Lizzy-esque harmonized lead work. “Eraser” has a mellow Jethro Tull kind of feel (minus the flutes, unfortunately) that eventually gives way to the most bombastic portion of the EP. Third track “Shift” has more of a post-punk feel to it, while closer “Eight Bells” brings us back around to the Thin Lizzy vibe of “The Point Between.” From start to finish, the EP is really solid. In fact, my only complaint with Shift is that it’s only about twelve minutes long. Hopefully a full length will be coming soon, because I want to hear more of what Highpriest can do.

Shift is available as a digital download from the Grimoire Records Bandcamp page.