Higher Power – ‘Soul Structure’

By Glen Bushell

Let’s not beat around the bush here; Higher Power are a pretty hot commodity in UK hardcore right now. In fact, their reach goes further than just our shores and the last year has seen them make waves worldwide. Virtually any flyer that appears for a hardcore show will have their name on it, and all signs are pointing to them being one of the scene’s biggest exports. With good reason, too.

This means, then, that the old saying “With great power comes great responsibility,” rings true, and the anticipation for Higher Power to deliver on their debut album, ‘Soul Structure’, is very high. We’ve seen it countless times before when bands generate this much hype: they get accused of selling out, or being nothing more than just a t-shirt band with little substance or originality. In the case of Higher Power, they have exceeded expectations and then some, taking a tried and tested formula and making it their own.

The razor sharp riff that opens up ‘Can’t Relate’ bleeds into a classic ‘90s hardcore sound: fast verses, stop/start choruses, and the groove-laden breakdowns that you want from a hardcore record. It’s a style of music that’s not supposed to be fancy and intricate, and while Higher Power don’t really deviate from their chosen path, ‘Looking Inward’ and ‘Four Walls Black’ are perfect examples of how great hardcore can sound when played with vigour and passion.

Something that has followed Higher Power around for their relatively short lifespan is the comparison to their US counterparts, Turnstile. While it could be justified on the surface of ‘Soul Structure’, dig a little deeper into the record, and the lineage of hardcore, and something more becomes apparent. The hooks that permeate ‘Hole’ are redolent of the alt-rock baiting sound of Into Another, while ‘Between Concrete and Sky’ sounds like the song Supertouch didn’t get a chance to write.

What makes Higher Power so distinguishable is Jimmy Wizard’s vocal approach, which is less than conventional by today’s standards. There’s no screaming here, save the occasional drawn out syllable, and while they aren’t the first band to do this, it is unique enough to make the lightening quick verbiage of ‘Embrace’ seem fresh. Even down to lyrical content, focusing more on introspection, hope, and mental health, Wizard keeps things direct and relatable, swerving the machismo usually associated with hardcore.

Back in the days when message boards were the chosen medium for hardcore kids to voice their opinions, you can almost see how Higher Power would divide people in different threads. But this is 2017, and ‘Soul Structure’ is an album that pays homage to the past without sullying the genre. So much so that even the most jaded ‘old school’ hardcore fans would struggle to not get excited about it. More importantly though, ‘Soul Structure’ gives a modern voice to hardcore and is something that a new generation of hardcore kids can believe in.

GLEN BUSHELL

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