Thursday, December 13, 2012

Single Review: Heaven's Gate-High Riser EP 7"

Is it possible to make shoegaze that's energetic? On the surface I think the answer to that question for many people would be "no". Shoegaze is a genre that usually marks itself by turning inward, swirling together the lines between vocals and guitar, along with every other sound, to create a mesh of noise and melody. Emotion is not expressed through vocals (usually covered up with a inaudible layer of haze anyway), but through insanely noisy burst of guitar feed back or wails. However, I think Heaven's Gate is trying to challenge all those notions with their High Riser EP.

The EP opens with a roar thanks to first cut "Pray". The guitars start buzzing in a lovely swirl that makes them feel alive as the rhythm section thunders behind it. The drums especially are deeply pronounced and innovative for a shoegaze sound. However, it's front-women's Jess Paps that are the most striking. Thankfully void of any to all effects, they are both airy and sharp. She has the ability to jump between banshee snarl to a crooked coo that balances out the songs intensity in the right places. On the likes of "Pogo" and "Sea Swingers" this element really shines, in so making the chorus truly pop and explode to certain extents. "Explode" is definitely the right term to use because that what all the songs on High Riser manage to do. The band undercuts typical shoegaze expectation again by actually not indulging in the sprawl, instead cutting the songs to their minimalist core so that only one of the seven tracks on here is more than two minutes long. In doing the songs contain a hyper-condensed quality to all of them that amplifies nearly every aspect to them, so those twisted, zooming guitar riffs and powerful vocals feel even more prominent. More so the more typical shoegaze songs, like the dreamy "Salome", feel creative instead of coming off as generic.

With the High Riser EP, Heaven's Gate have broken from their Sweet Bulbs shell to reveal the nearly fully formed hawk within. The EP and band have come out with an aggressive first release, with a near laser like focus on their own style of indie-rock and shoegaze. It feel volatile and new, especially within a genre where it seems like that doesn't happen enough.


Heaven's Gate's Facebook
Buy the High Riser 7" here, from Fire Talk

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