Since 2017, Swedish powerhouse Eastern High have been impressing listeners with their modern yet melodic sound. Drawing influence from the likes of Opeth, Gojira, and Soen, their new album Halo feels self-assured and powerful – progressive metal with a sprinkling of deathcore here, a smattering of Viking metal there. We are pleased to be able to share it with you today.
For a 40-minute album, Halo really packs a punch. It sounds huge, with fat rhythm guitar and bass tones, drawn-out vocal phrases, and massive drums. The gritty, chugging verses juxtapose beautifully with the grand, open choruses – a balance of rhythm and harmony. Subtle is not a word I would use to describe Halo, which isn’t to say that it’s not faceted – with each listen, small variations in rhythmic patterns become more obvious, and little ornamental guitar layers begin to sparkle through. The vocals remain mostly hearty and clean, with the occasional straight-from-hell growl thrown in for impact.
The album feels extremely cohesive, with everything exactly where it needs to be; I feel Eastern High have thought through every decision they made on Halo. As well as being tight as fuck rhythmically, the band show their melodic side through ripping guitar solos. The solos from “Emperor” and “Journey” are particularly nice, the former sounding like Slash gone death metal, and the latter almost like a more restrained Fredrik Åkesson.
Besides catchy choruses, machine-gun rhythmic precision, and slick solos, Eastern High also have some slappin’ riffs on offer, some of my personal favourites being in “Dystopia”. For me, the song’s title in itself sets my expectations high, as it makes me think of the song by the same name by Cloudkicker, which features one of my favourite riffs of all time – so no pressure. Eastern High‘s riffs do not disappoint on this song, though – both the main intro riff and the bridge are absolutely sick. In fact, all three of the album’s final tracks are particularly my thing. I won’t ruin it for you, but watch out for that title track, it’s a goodie.