The guy behind High Spirits, Chicago resident Chris Black, is also the guy behind Superchrist and Dawnbringer. Those are three pretty great bands; in fact, Dawnbringer released our second-favorite metal album of 2012 (and for that matter, our sixth-favorite metal album of 2010), and High Spirits’ last release, the 2013 EP, was featured in our metal column, the Black Market, last April.
Black’s nickname is “The Professor,” and I’ve heard from people who know him that he’s literally a genius, and while I have no idea if that claim is true, I like to believe it just the same. Because Black’s music absolutely feels to me like the work a genius might produce. It’s meticulously detailed, though not the way, like, Steely Dan records are meticulously detailed. Black’s ear for sound — and more importantly, his ability to produce (or reproduce) the sound he’s after — is almost without peer.
Each of Black’s musical iterations has its own identity, but each is also a lovingly crafted extension of a bygone era of metal (mostly circa the early to mid ’80s): Superchrist belong to the same rugged, drunken New Wave Of British Heavy Metal school that produced Saxon and Motörhead; Dawnbringer combine the melodic, anthemic, and progressive tendencies of Iron Maiden circa Piece Of Mind and Powerslave with those same tendencies as manifested in the music of Swedish black metal pioneers Bathory during that band’s viking period. And High Spirits are Black’s feelgood metal band, the one that would have scored a drag-race scene in a slob comedy circa 1983. Here Black, finds his influence at the exact point before feelgood metal became a joke, before Poison and Warrant ruined it for everyone, when bands like Kix and Ratt were considered (and in fact were) every bit as unassailably great as Judas Priest and AC/DC. And every detail is spot on: the thin instrumental tones, the simple yet timeless song structures, the high-pitched melodic vocal attack. But while Black is an obsessive historian and sonic perfectionist, he’s also a hell of a songwriter: His songs are focused, engaging, and insanely catchy.
High Spirits are set to release a new LP, You Are Here, in May; it was performed and recorded entirely by Black, but he’ll be taking a full band out to tour behind it. We’ve got the tour dates and details of the new album below, as well as one of its songs for you to stream; it’s called “The Last Night,” and it’s so, so great. Listen.
You Are Here tracklist:
01 “When the Lights Go Down”
02 “I Need Your Love”
03 “One Thousand Nights”
04 “Reminding You Of Me”
05 “The Last Night”
06 “Can You Hear Me”
07 “Gone to Pieces”
08 “I Will Run”
09 “High Spirits”
High Spirits tour dates:
04/18 – Hamtramck, MI @ Smalls
04/19 – Toronto, ON @ The Bovine
04/20 – Montreal, QC @ Petit Campus
04/21 – Providence, RI @ Dusk
04/22 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
04/23 – Philadelphia, PA @ Millcreek Tavern
04/24 – Raleigh, NC @ TBA
04/25 – Richmond, VA @ Gallery 5
04/26 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Howlers
You Are Here is out 5/13 via Hells Headbangers.