High Spirits are Chris Black’s Hard Rock/NWOBHM alter ego. The prolific multi instrumentalist seems to release a new record every year with a different band. Black is also the brains behind Dawnbringer, Superchrist and the drummer in progressive metal outfit Pharaoh, which show the many different facets of his talents.
High Spirits were formed in 2009 and released their debut back in 2011. Riding high on the exceptional 2014 release You Are Here, they are back with their third full length album Motivator.
The album’s influences range from straight up ’70s rock like Boston and Thin Lizzy blended with a heavy dose of early Iron Maiden and the best of the NWOBHM genre has to offer. Black plays all of the instruments here as his talent shows no quit.
Shockingly, Motivator clocks in right under 30 minutes. I can’t remember a full length album being this direct and straight to the point in years. The nine songs fly by and leave the listener wanting more, which is much more preferred than the masturbatory self idolizing records that are typically released today.
Black has a knack for writing irresistible melodies that are infectious and so incredibly catchy. I am glad the album is only 30 minutes as each track deserves to be spun again and again as once doesn’t wet the appetite enough. As Motivator suggests, the lyrics are upbeat and positive throughout. It’s a nice change of pace, as most metal albums are mired in drudgery and depression. Black takes the opposite stance and makes this the feel good album of the year.
Each track moves at a quick pace with “Flying High,” “This Is The Night” and “Reach For The Glory” all standing out as neck breaking anthems. Black’s vocals are getting better with age and it is impossible not to sing or play air guitar along.
“Take Me Home” finds inspiration in classic Iron Maiden with a riff not to far removed from their classic “Running Free.” “Haunted By Love” brings to mind classic Judas Priest and slows the tempo slightly with another brilliant chorus from Black.
Album closer “Thank You” stands out instantly. With it’s classic NWOBHM riffing, it will take you right back to 1980. An endearing anthem to Black’s undying love of his friends, the lyrics are over the top cheesy and I wouldn’t want them any other way.
High Spirits have done it again as Motivator is on par with anything Black has released. Between High Spirits and Dawnbringer, I am not sure anyone is at the creative peak that Black currently is enjoying. This is a must own for anyone who is into classic rock and metal.
(released September 16, 2016 on High Roller Records)