High Spirits - Hard to Stop
High Roller Records
Hard Rock / Heavy Metal
9 songs (34'31")
Release year: 2020
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Chris “Professor” Black must hold a distinction of how many solo acts of his, or bands where he is involved in some role, have been covered on these pages. Not sure if there is such a thing as a champion on MetalReviews.com but Chris has got to be up there. Aktor, Dawnbringer, Pharaoh, Professor Black, these are, my understanding, still active. Nachtmystium, Sculptured saw a brief stint by Chris, but he is no longer involved. These bands/projects are the ones which have at least one review on this site, and I can proudly say I contributed many of them.

Today on tap we have High Spirits latest Hard to Stop. For this band Chris handles everything himself, including vocals, at least in the studio. That has always been my understanding anyway. It is interesting how energy flows from one of his projects into the other, and as Dawnbringer started fading away High Spirits seems to be on a peak with Hard to Stop. Maybe all right buttons were pushed for the album, or it simply caught me at the right moment, but I have enjoyed it immensely.

With so much shit going on in the world to hear something so bright and shiny was in one word liberating. Especially playing it several days in a row when I didn’t have my migraines, weather was beautiful, the sun was shining brightly, not a cloud in a big blue sky. It was absolutely fun drifting away with these catchy songs, driven by simpler chord progressions, Chris’ moany vocals and crisp production perfectly balancing distortion vs clarity. This is the music me and my high school friends were dreaming to produce in our junior-senior years, to have all the girls who weren’t afraid of an electric guitar just swoon over us (alas we failed given lack of equipment at our high school back in Kiev). Alert and cheerful songs like Since You've Been Gone is foot-tapping head-bobbing driven protometal as it was burgeoning from the chrysalis of hard rock. This is early Accept from self-titled debut, but kinder, distinctly American and very rhythm oriented, and maybe early W.A.S.P, at least in some melodic inflections and non-linear drum rolls (Restless), but a lot less aggressive. In some moments (Voice in the Wind) it is narrative hard rock, with Scorpions overtones in instrumental passages, and with texts and titles (All Night Long) in line with my age musings above. Sometimes more metallic (Hearts Will Burn), Hard to Stop even tries for the anthem in the title track, or a punky Western, which could have been perfectly placed into the soundtrack of Back to the Future Part 3 (Now I Know).

Interesting time signatures (Restless), chorus hooks to die for (Midnight Sun), this album warmed my heart and brought back memories. I felt young and without a worry. Thank you, Professor, I absolutely owe you one for this uplift.

Killing Songs :
Since You've Been Gone, Midnight Sun, Now I Know
Alex quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by High Spirits that we have reviewed:
High Spirits - You Are Here reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
High Spirits - Another Night reviewed by Stefan and quoted 85 / 100
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