Higher Power - Soul Structure (Cover Artwork)

Higher Power

Soul Structure (2017)

Flatspot Records

May of 2017 saw the release of Soul Structure, the first full-length effort by Leeds, U.K., hardcore quintet Higher Power. I admit that after hearing their demos and seeing some show clips online, I was fairly skeptical about any possible longevity from this apparent Turnstile-come-lately. But it seems that even grumpy old-schoolers like myself can find comfort and, dare I say, optimism from a band of kids who weren’t even born when I got my first Blitz record.

A most aptly titled record, the depth and the composition of these 10 tracks is a standout, especially for a band who is (albeit rightfully) put under the umbrella of ‘hardcore’. These fellows certainly did their homework when it comes to piecing together a wide array of musical influences, while still sounding fresh and unique.

The opener “Can’t Relate” begins with some heavily phased guitar riffs that lead quickly into the Layne Staley-meets-Jim Williams vocalist’s tale of isolation and depression. “Looking Inward” follows, and rightfully so; the hope of searching ones own conscious for the answers to woes proves a suiting, if not a tiny bit cliche, sequel.

“Balance” takes things in a different direction, full of bounce and playful harmonized gang vocals, reminiscent of the funkier side of Suicidal Tendencies.

Midway through, we get the twin anthems, “Between Concrete and Sky” and “Burning”, the longest tracks on the record. Each of these are wonderfully layered, multi-faceted jams, complete with everything from breakneck drumming and riffing that likely resulted in a bloodied fretboard, to slowly drawn out vocal pleas, perfectly centered over groovy, 90s grunge-tinged breakdowns.

Closing track “You Ain’t Much” is the perfect bookend. At just over three minutes, the track sums up all of the fine ingredients from the rest of the record: Finely tuned production which is layered without being intrusive, excellent musicianship, melodic vocals, and enough changes in tempo to allow the song to breathe and keep the listener engaged.

While I’m not guaranteeing the name Higher Power will be mentioned in any documentaries about 2010’s hardcore that will be released 30 years from now, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoy this album. These lads somehow managed to intertwine traits of Leeway, Faith No More, 108, and Jane’s Addiction, and thanks to their youthful energy and some stellar production, made one of my favorite albums of 2017.