Release date: 26th July 2019 || Genre: Heavy stoner bluescore || Label: Argonauta Records
A little bit of Jefferson Airplane? A little bit of Queens Of The Stone Age? A little bit of… Iron Monkey? Yup, High Fighter‘s latest, Champain, is of a strange breed indeed. This is due, in no small part, to the exemplary display from singer – or rather “vocalist” Mona Miluski. The application of perfectly raw techniques she puts her voice to – mainly satanic snarl & classic/alt rock – take this album above the norm, and outside of the usual boxes. I’m aware many remain un-keen for more genre tags, but if I was to have a go at applying a new one here, it might be “blackened stoner grunge”..? Even that doesn’t encapsulate the full image.
The instrumental portion of the band pull up further aspects, too, such as proto-doom, blues rock, and a touch of heavy prog. Most importantly, they also show off an extensive library of mind-gripping riffs, which some of their contemporaries neglect to employ. While this does form a backdrop of sorts to the vocals, those who give the album a few spins, and really get familiar with it, will be rewarded. There is a lot to dig into.
Although Champain is a natural continuation of the original HF sound, it fits far better into the sludge metal descriptor they have chosen at times. It seems a lot heavier, and more consistently at tension. If you’re a big fan of lo-fi suzz, but find yourself getting a little tired of the same old same in the current heatwave of old school doom and desert rock, you need to get your ears around this gem. It will likely be a new favourite for fans from across the board.