Sometimes the name of a band can really describe their sound. For example, if the band name sounds like a Klingon coughing up a stubbornly lodged pubic hair, you’re probably right to assume it will be an extreme metal act. Likewise, if the name is something like, oh, I don’t know, Gloryhammer, you can rightfully assume it will be power metal that is cheesier than a tramps foreskin, and just about as welcome being stuck into my ears. As such, in a classic case of nominative determinism, you can be damn sure that High Reeper will be bringing you a munchie inducing heaping helping of stoner doom!
Following on from their self-titled debut, this Philadelphian five piece go one better, cranking the dials on their doubtless valve powered amps up to Volume 4 to pump out some timeless, sleazy THC tinged rock. The Iommi worship is obvious from chord one of song one ‘Eternal Leviathan’, with a sound that screams of long hair, bubbling bongs, and flared denim aplenty. Even the lyrics of mythical beasties is from page one of the book of classic metal. Does that make it bad? Hell no, and this old git’s long grey hair was nodding along in time to the beats with pleasure. Tried and true influences continue unabated with ‘Buried Alive’, an evolution of Sabbath via Saint Vitus, the guitars down-tuned and sustained, the drums solid and devoid of unnecessary flash, and the cleanly delivered lyrics full of occult images ripped from the scripts of the House of Hammer. Not all is a slog though, and the pace ups from a zombie shuffle to fist pumping jog with the opening riff of ‘Bring The Dead’, a number that could so easily be sung by a Scott, be it a howling Reagers or snarling Weinrich, and fitted right into the 80’s catalogue of either artist.
Just in case there is any doubt as to the influences of the band, the next track ‘Planet Caravan’, sorry ‘Apocalypse Hymn’ points the way with absolutely no uncertainty, travelling down a well worn psychedelic pathway, before our aforementioned nominative determinism kicks in aplenty with the opening bass boom of ‘Foggy Drag’; High Reeper really have no problem in showing where their allegiance lies, proudly and unashamedly waving a banner woven from hemp for all to see.
If you’re the sort of person who sports a t-shirt saying “you can only trust yourself and the first six Black Sabbath albums”, High Reeper have produced an album that will either have you crying with thoughts of the past, or smiling with the knowledge that the sounds of Iommi, Butler, Ward, and Osborne continue to influence new generations of musicians so strongly. Me, I enjoyed the album, and just hope the band continue to evolve and develop their own sound as they clearly have the skill to do so, and thus prevent them getting lost in the throng of worshippers of the sweet leaf that are crowding this particular corner of the metal scene.