High Tension – Death Beat

Comprised evenly of The Nation Blue and Young & Restless members, new Australian rockers High Tension have been given a fair amount of praise from the release of their debut 7” “High Risk, High Rewards”. Not surprisingly, the pedigree in which High Tension comes from justifiably gives them more than a leg to stand on. But after listening to their debut full length, Death Beat, you can forgive me for not entirely buying into this hype just yet.

Karina Utomo possesses a great set of pipes and belts a good one, but airs on the grating side after a while.  Through the opening tracks “Blaze Up” and “Positive”, Utomo’s vocals and the music gel quite well, owing a little perhaps, to the more uptempo nature of these songs. However, it is with slower, sludgier fare like “Without U.S.” that her vocals become really quite irritating.

Musically, if you’re a fan of the Cancer Bats or the Bronx, you’ll find some of the riffage here to your liking. But in reality, the riffs all sound a little too by-the-book and you’d probably expect more from this talented group of individuals. Nothing quite stands out just yet and perhaps, over time, they will find points of interest in their music that will distinguish them from the average fare.

A musician friend who plays and tours in bands regularly (an avid heavy music listener) weighed in with his opinion as I wanted a second look with fresh ears. And the best thing he said was, “it’s alright, lacking a bit of imagination, and some of the riffs sounds like what a 13-year old who just bought his first distortion pedal would write. But a good vibe.”

Probably sums it up.

Death Beat isn’t a bad album by any means, and it’s a solid foundation in which they can easily build upon. It is just all very underwhelming for now. However, if there is a true positive out of this, they’ve certainly got what it takes individually to prove this reviewer wrong.

(Cooking Vinyl Records)

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