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Old Lies For Young Lives

Transcend Music (2013)
Rating: 9/10

Heights, from Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, have been quickly making a name for themselves since their 2011 full-length debut Dead Ends. These UK hardcore up and comers have toured with the likes of Biohazard and Attack Attack!, and were nominated for “Best New Band” at the 2012 Metal Hammer Golden God Awards.

Their style is firmly entrenched in hardcore, including a DIY ethic that shows in their self-released music, while embracing punk and modern rock, resulting in a more mature, diverse sound on their sophomore release, Old Lies For Young Lives.

‘The Best Years’ opens this set of songs with a mix of lead and rhythm guitars that almost sounds like Further Seems Forever guesting on a Snapcase album. Melodic lead guitars cover pummeling rhythms, not unlike the formula used to great effect by Shai Hulud. The vocals are pure hardcore, with occasional melodic harmonies.

This song serves as an excellent template for the rest of the album, and after an abrupt stop barrels directly into ‘Eleven Eyes’, a track that opens with hardcore riffing a young Ringworm would have been proud of with breaks that allow the listener just enough time to recover for the next attack. In a surprising turn, a pop break rears its head about two minutes into this song, providing an upbeat turn that takes a typical hardcore song into the arena of a rock anthem.

The mix of styles on Old Lies For Young Lives is what transforms this from a standard hardcore album to a jewel in the crown of Heights majesty. ‘In Transit’ and ‘Stray Rats’ are both album highlights that are built upon standard punk guitar riffs and given a hardcore twist.

The straightforward riff that opens ‘In Transit’ shifts from dirge to hardcore power pop, ending in a chant along doom loop of “Death, married me. I’ll be the best man I can be. Disaster, followed me. And I can hardly breathe”. Yes, a chant along doom pop dirge. I didn’t see it coming either, which is what makes it so damn genius. ‘Stray Rats’ similarly starts with punk riffing, then takes it to the Further Seems Forever on a homicidal rampage hardcore that seems to be the calling card of Heights.

While punk isn’t that distant a relative of hardcore, ‘Repeat’ is a quiet guitar interlude based on an echoing riff that sounds like something Metallica may have written as an intro to a heavier song early in their career. This sombre instrumental serves as a mental cleansing of the palate to prepare the listener for the following track, ‘Wake Up, Fall Asleep’. Opening with quiet guitars and vocals, this song builds by degrees until it embraces a full roar. The broad spectrum of sounds on Old Lies For Young Lives was missing from its predecessor, a fact that is only obvious after listening to the current release.

Heights has released a strong album that will make many end of year best of 2013 lists. Over the last decade hardcore influence has crept into all aspects of heavy music. Heights reverses the trend by bringing the best things about heavy music of all styles and incorporating them into its hardcore formula. The result is a gripping album that I can’t get enough of. Old Lies For Young Lives is an incredible listen. If this is any indication of what Heights is capable of, they should be taking over the world any day now.

Jim McDonald

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