[ALBUM REVIEW] High Tension – Purge


Red White Shame
Ghost To Ghost
Bite The Leash (Burn)
The Stench
The Legacy

Reviewed by Shane Henderson

High Tension has been a regular on my playlist ever since their 2012 debut Death Beat and follow up album 2015’s Bully. Both excellent examples of brutal punk/metal crossover. And if your reading this you have probably already witnessed this at one of High Tension’s very intense live shows. Fast forward to 2018 the first two singles Ghost to Ghost and Bite the Leash tease us in whats to come. And if you were at their Gasometer gig not too long ago six of the new tracks made the setlist. So my most anticipated release for this year no question is High Tension’s third album titled Purge.

Purge is the first album to feature drummer Lauren Hammel and guitarist Mike Deslandes (both joining after the release of ‘Bully’). Deslandes has also engineered, produced and mixed this album. The excellent cover art of a snake shedding its skin by Loretta Lizzio is outstanding. In fact, I purchased the LP instead of my usual CD just so I could have the image in a larger format. I don’t even own a record player!

The first track Red White Shame begins with an eerie guitar followed by Utomo’s harrowing vocals. There is a rage in her voice and not surprising given the lyrical content. A general theme for the album being the atrocities committed during the Indonesian Anti-Communist Purge of the 60’s. The listener is put in the uncomfortable position of choice. If I met you in Hell, Would I join in? Would I participate? In this ritual of Sin. Do you feel disturbed yet? You should! Hammel’s drums and Weston’s low-end bass goodness come in producing a massive thick wall of sound relentless to the end.

There’s defiantly been extra work put in on this album regarding the bass sound and drums. Both more intense than previous releases and present throughout the whole album, in particular, check out Ular and Veil two favorites of mine. Deslandes brings a more metal guitar sound to the mix and provides some great backup vocals. Just listen to last track Rise as a shining example. Utomo has outdone herself on Purge. Still screaming like a woman possessed, that vocal we all love. Add to it more venom and guttural growls. I would even go as far to say closer to death metal and grindcore in style. The only exception to this being on the track Surrender.

Midway through the album and the only time we have a chance to catch a breather Surrender really catches me off guard. A steady bass line starts this track off with subtle overtones of a guitar coming in soon after. I’m already finding myself drifting off into some other place when in comes the most ethereal voice. Utomo showcases a whole new side to her vocal style here as does the band with the accompanying music. This track is awesome.

Immediately we are thrown back into the ferociousness that is Veil and The Stench. The Legacy and Purge although still brutal have a more uplifting feel to them especially final track Rise which leaves me feeling extremely satisfied by the end.

High Tension has evolved into an even heavier, more brutal, raging beast than they already were and purge is more metal sounding than previous releases. There are no B-sides on this album and I hope all 10 tracks make their live set. Well Done!

Order PURGE here