For many, the idea of hardcore music conjures up images of garage or basement shows filled with violently flailing limbs, seemingly uncontrolled by a wealth of sweaty teenagers and early twenty-somethings. Disputing the existence of such audiences would be futile, however arguing that this D.I.Y. and unpolished image is the only form of the genre would be equally misguided. There increasingly exists a subset of the genre far more refined and musically tight than the often outdated stereotypical viewpoint. Heights find themselves advancing towards the lead of the ever-expanding wave of cleaner British hardcore bands.
‘Old Lies For Young Lives’ further explores the relationship between melody and all-out ferocity that was evident on the band’s debut ‘Dead Ends’. There is a careful balance between the two as each is given their turn in the limelight. Opener ‘The Best Years’ demonstrates the complimenting styles, allowing the first minute to generate a form of melodic tension before overlaying the continued guitar melody and occasional clean vocal shout with Alex Monty’s rough screams.
As the record develops the evident leaning towards tunefulness is retained – either sitting comfortably behind the vocal explosions or allowing one to follow the other as on lead single ‘Eleven Eyes’ (featuring Architects frontman and serial contributor Sam Carter). These moments add a commercial edge to an otherwise unrelenting sound, yet also provide a unique element to proceedings which removes the danger of the record falling into a monotonous rut. Likely to have diehard stateside hardcore fans wreathing, it is a sound that sees Heights bordering on experimental pathways followed by the likes of Bring Me The Horizon. On the basis of ‘In Transit’ and the Architects inspired ‘Wake Up, Fall Asleep’ it would not be an inconceivable sidestep to see their own equivalent of ‘Suicide Season’ a year down the line.
The overall sound is not weakened as the fierceness subsides for these melodic elements. Instead ‘Old Lies For Young Lives’ substitutes the immediate hit that their contemporaries deliver in favour of a more succinct structure. As ‘Wake Up, Fall Asleep’ gives way to the powerful riffs of ‘Forth / Here’ the step seems logical – the flow from soft to heavy mirroring the remainder of the record. All the while the tracks are pulled together by the polished production and the ability to come across entirely uncluttered.
To label ‘Old Lies For Young Lives’ as hardcore simplifies the concoction of tempo, style and vocal delivery. Although orbiting a British hardcore core, the overall sound is ultimately removed from bands of the same ilk. Rather than packing the predictable punch, Heights source their energy from elsewhere – predominately in their willingness to expand and experiment. Those expecting straightforward British hardcore will find something to enjoy here, however are more likely to discover a different and entirely intriguing approach.
Reviewer: Ben Tipple