There’s something fascinating about the very idea of the hardcore band that has the potential to cross over. It’s not an easy thing to do! Right now, there’s a tiny cadre of bands who came out of the DIY basement scene and managed to grow to the point where they get booked at gigantic rock festivals with people like Metallica and Slipknot. It’s a short list: Turnstile, Power Trip, Code Orange, Knocked Loose, that’s pretty much it. The Leeds band Higher Power have a pretty good shot at reaching that level. If they do, it’ll start with 27 Miles Underwater, the new album that they’ve just released today.
Higher Power are products of the UK hardcore scene that’s been exploding in the past few years. (Their hometown also gave us bands like Violent Reaction and the Flex.) Higher Power’s sound is fully rooted in hardcore, and they’re named after a Subzero song. The band released their debut album, 2017’s Soul Structure, on the small label Flatspot. But they’ve been growing more and more ambitious, adding on more and more melodic elements to a sound that already had plenty of them.
Higher Power have a big, clean sound with a whole lot of hooks and the same kind of bright arena-crunch as a lot of ’90s alt-rock. Their charismatic frontman Jimmy Wizard has a high-pitched yelp of a voice that sounds just as natural singing as screaming. If anything, Higher Power sound like an even friendlier version of their new labelmates in Turnstile. They recorded their new album with the veteran big-rock producer Gil Norton, a longtime Pixies/Foo Fighters collaborator, and you can totally tell. It’s a very produced album.
Parts of 27 Miles Underwater remind me of early-’90s funk-metal. Parts of it sound like late-’90s post-grunge. Parts of it sound like mid-’00s Warped Tour/MySpace screamo. On Twitter, the great rock critic Zoe Camp wrote that the album has “a tie-dye Deftones feel to it,” and I absolutely can’t do any better than that. The album has one mostly-acoustic power ballad called “In The Meantime.” Imagine Porno For Pyros covering Alice In Chains, and then imagine a pop-punk version of that — that’s “In The Meantime.”
This sound veers into some dangerously cheesy territory, but I’m also drawn to it and fascinated with it. I’m not sure, but I think it might rule? You can make up your own mind; stream 27 Miles Underwater below.
27 Miles Underwater is out now on Roadrunner.