High in Mist - Unframed
Crysella Records
Goth metal
6 songs (27' 46")
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Andy

I've often wondered how it would be to be a goth in a tropical country. Setting aside cultural baggage that might come along with the lifestyle, what about the clothing issues? I've been to Indonesia a few times, and even wearing T-shirts, you can get pretty hot -- it seems to me that those black trench coats and full-length dresses would make exposure to the sun as unpleasant to their wearers as to any vampire. However they finesse that little difficulty, though, new goth metal outfit High in Mist brings us some quite good samples of their art from their home in the Philippines with their first EP, Unframed.

One thing I like about this album is that they're not afraid to make a song heavy, and while there are some pop hooks, they are very tastefully done. I don't recognize Joelen Mingi, or his German goth rock band (Angina Pectoris), but High in Mist came to the right place when they had him do their production, because he clearly knows what he's doing when it comes to a classic gothic sound. The guitar is heavy on the treble with a bit of a buzz to the distortion, the drums have a flat, electronic echo to them, and the keyboards are a soft background of tragic chorus to the rest of the instruments. Frontwoman Annette Lee's slippery midrange is versatile, allowing her to move at will between a cool, full tone reminiscent of Christina Scabbia, and a softer and breathier whisper that's more like Liv Kristine. She also throws in some screams on Your Choice, but though they do provide some contrast for the rest of the singing, they're not her strong point -- nor, really, do they need to be. The guitar's chugging can be well appreciated on one of my favorite tracks on the album, Beyond Zenith, and the intro solo on that one is enjoyable too, but the real treat is the chorus, in which they succeed in making it fast-paced without sounding mechanical, and give it good hooks without making it too poppy. That doesn't make it over to the next track; Deceit's shivery violin is a nice touch, but the song's a little too slow with too little to offer.

Turning Point is better, though. The verse riff isn't much different than Deceit, but they put extra effort into their songwriting here, and the layered vocals Lee has on the chorus, backed by the effervescent keyboard, fit into a tight niche with the buzzing guitar riffs, occasionally disrupted by the growled portions (don't like them on this track, either, but that might be personal preference). Collide is faster, but has such a similar tune and sound that it makes it hard to differentiate; it would be nice if Lee's singing could have a bit more variation, as here it doesn't have much of a range and the tunes are thus constrained by that.

Despite these flaws, and the fact that Flowing Tears is just an outro track (why do bands do that on EPs?), Unframed is a promising start; songwriting and music-wise, they pay homage to the goth sound without falling victim to the radio-friendly cliches that often give goth metal bands a bad name. I'll be interested in seeing what they do next as their sound evolves.

Killing Songs :
Beyond Zenith
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