I can’t stress enough how valuable and essential a band like High Tension are to Australia and its scene. Ever since their debut “Death Beat”, the Collingwood-based quartet’s take on sludge, punk and metal music has made them one out to be one of central archetypes within Australia’s underground scene in this current decade. Three years after the release of the punk-induced commodity “Bully”, the hostility of High Tension has evolved to a potent degree in the form of “Purge”.
As a whole, “Purge” kind of takes the elements from both “Death Beat” and “Bully” and emerge them into one, but with much more metal involved in the process while revving up sludgier and perhaps, thrashier fragments in the mix. There is still a sense of punk, which can be acknowledged in the likes of Bite the Leash (Burn) and The Stench, but it’s not as present as it was in the last two records. High Tension also channel a lot of High On Fire, Mastodon and Baroness in some real jaw-splitters such as Ular, The Legacy, Veil and Rise, where they cater these songs with real face-melting riffs that are heavier than a stampede of ten thousand rhinos in battle armour. Things also take a big turn when met with the fifth track Surrender; which is laced with an atmospheric, doomy, almost Chelsea Wolfe vibe with some bellowing, grim bass and guitars with effects of delay in the mixing, as well as some gritty, but also clean strumming involved in the last half of the song.
Despite Karina Utomo’s use of catharsis in her lyrics, her vocals, which have greatly progressed since “Bully” help put more sinew and force into her emotions as she belts out her raw, abrasive and ominous screaming. Having Lauren Hammel and Mike Deslandes as the newer counterparts to High Tension with at least three years’ experience onstage with Utomo and Weston, both of them have filled in the shoes of Damian Coward and Ash Pegram with ease. Considering Deslandes also takes part in the doom metal outfit YLVA, it’s quite transparent to see where all of the overpowered and scraping guitar tones have been coming from. Hammel has also been playing her role as the percussionist as if she had always been there from the start, and of course, her ability to be able carry the whole band on her shoulders as a formidably endowed drummer.
Australian metal and punk music doesn’t necessarily get overlooked by the international audiences. However, a lot of artists have been reaching out to audiences across the globe, hoping to earn their shine one day. High Tension are one of those bands that have been deserving of their spotlight since their debut. With an honest LP like “Purge” that’s filled with authentic ferociousness and astounding characteristics that circulate throughout its course, this is the album that Australia has been needing to represent its heavy music scene to the universe for a long time. I could not pick a more important entity in this case other than High Tension, and by god, they’ve absolutely outdone themselves in a way that millions of bands would aspire to achieve.
Pre-order your copy of ‘Purge’ out June 15th via Cooking Vinyl HERE!