When I first saw High Priests 3 or 4 years ago, I would have labeled them as stoner punk. While their press photos certainly still hit on that imagery, I’m not so sure that Spinning matches that descriptor in any sense. As for additional semi-relevant background info, the band has some recognizable faces from the punk scene: members and ex-members of The Brokedowns, Wide Angles, and Post Child. Now that I’ve said what they aren’t, maybe it’s time to talk about Spinning.
High Priests play punk that’s blunt and powerful, forgoing melodies and big choruses for brawling, blistering songs that hit heavy, hard, and fast. It’s a familiar style, even though I can’t quite place who exactly it reminds me of. Mikey Alesi’s harshly shouted vocals cut over booming guitars and punctuating rhythm section that bring everything home. While I think there are more bands I could reference, it bears similarity to Mclusky, STNNNG and maybe a touch of Rye Coalition as a segue between those bands. It definitely reminds me of the mid-Aughts. Regardless of the namedrops, High Priests are their own band, nothing derivative.
While Alesi sounds super angry with his snarled vocals, the overall tone is more punchy and visceral, that just-beneath-the-surface level of anger instead of straight-up fury. “Sell Your Clothes” is a good example of the style as a whole. The guitars play off powerful mini-riffs that are nestled in between lyrical snippets and that bite, chew and sometimes spit it right back out.
For all my talk of anger, there’s an underlying groove that pulls it all together and keeps things from getting bleak, neatly picked up in the drums. Sometimes it’s downright cathartic how the guitar rumbles under the lyrical snippets and gives a rise-and-fall action with each song. There are real progressions within the songs here, even though they’re primarily two-to-three minutes long. It’s subtle and contained, unlike STNNG, who I compared them to earlier, who tend to wander at the points where High Priests reign it back in.
On Spinning, there are 11 songs in total and tend to follow a similar structure. Combined with Alesi’s delivery, they can blend together at times, but feeling more cohesive than redundant. It’s a brooding record of angry noise rock, cultivated for short punk rock attention spans.
7.5 / 10
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