Today, we have an interesting EP to review, The Guests are a gothic rock band from Moscow, Russia and were formed way back in 2002. The band have released a handful of singles, albums and EPs in the 16 years they’ve been together, firstly being their debut album “In Silence” in 2005 and most recently their new EP “Highlands” which released in March of this year, that’s what we’re here to talk about.
“Highlands” interestingly enough is an EP that features five tracks, yet that seems to only feature one new song for the band’s discography, the other four are four different remixes to the song Autumn Walk, that they released in February of 2017. Given the nature of the album, I’m going to write about the titular song Highlands first and then get in and dissect the differences between all the remixes.
Highlands begins with a kind of dark electronic synth beat, followed by some satisfying sounding strings. Over the beat feature an occasional and repeating strum of a guitar, the vocals come in and while they do have a distinctly strong accent, they still resonate in that unmistakable harrowing vocal style that Gothic Rock often showcases. There seemed to be either two vocalists or just a switching vocal style, either way I was delivered with a sound reminiscent of Type O Negative and Peter Murphy singing and weaving together which makes for quite a unique and interesting juxtaposition. It didn’t exactly blow me away, it wasn’t great, but it was good.
Jumping right into the four remixes of Autumn Walk I thought I might take a look and review as well, the original, so as to give a better frame of reference. Autumn Walk begins with a guitar riff that feels almost mystifying, yet uplifting in an odd way. It’s pulls out into a gentle picking of the strings and as the vocals come in it has the same harrowing vibe. The song features a lot of interesting synth instrumentals that give the song a real flare as some build up into the chorus and then break, some play out as a synth solo and some just flicker throughout the song. It’s a quiet jam, I would say, nothing too bombastic but nothing too boring which is evident in the drums of this song.
The first remix of the song has been done by Bruno Kramm and this time around, the song starts with an eerie piano, suspenseful violin and a playful drum beat and synths. The thoughts I have immediately, is that this remix feels like an interesting, more unique version than the original. While the original was mellow and middle of the road, this remix has a lot more that is stimulating to the ear. Next up is the remix done by Asper X and this gives us a different approach, as this has a lot of reverb which gives an echoed, mystifying sound. It has a simpler drum beat, yet an interesting use of synths and kind of transforms the gothic rock tune into more of a ballad.
The last two remixes are both done by Arkhangelsky, one being a proper remix and one being an alternate mix of the song. The remix seems to go full on techno, giving a heavily electronic filter to the beat and making the vocals significantly more subdued. This remix is probably the weakest due to the fact that I feel like it’s got the least going on for it, it’s just the vocals, the beat and a bouncy electronic riff playing throughout.
The alternate mix immediately pops as it’s not a remix at all, but an alternate version of the song. The guitars, bass and drums feel more pronounced than in the original which makes the song overall feel a lot more polished. In structure, the song seems more or less the exact same as the original, but the synths are more extravagant and the guitars and bass are way more prominent which really makes it feel like an authentic gothic rock song. This is definitely the version I would choose to listen to if you wanted to hear the original as it just feels more refined.
Overall I think that the EP is enjoyable, especially since each remix takes different approaches as well as different portions of the song which do a good job at making each feel completely different and distinct, while my only critique would be that Highlands and Autumn Walk both feel a bit underwhelming and like they could be so much more, I feel like that last alternate mix of Autumn Walk lives up to what the band really could be doing. Overall, with that critique in mind, I’d definitely give this EP my seal of approval as a good time.
Get your copy of Highlands, out now, HERE!