HIGH SPIRITS - Hard to Stop  CD
HIGH SPIRITS - Hard to Stop  CD
HIGH SPIRITS - Hard to Stop CD

HRR 750 CD, slipcase

-Since You've Been Gone
-Face to Face
-Hearts Will Burn
-Voice in the Wind
-All Night Long
-Midnight Sun
-Now I Know
-We Are Everywhere


Last year saw multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Chris “The Professor” Black release three solo albums simultaneously (via High Roller Records). This guy is really »Hard To Stop«, which maybe not quite accidentally is the name of High Spirits’ fifth full-length studio album (that is if you count the self-titled, self-released début from 2009).
“Actually, I did slow down for a bit,” laughs Chris Black. “The Professor Black albums and recent Aktor album »Placebo« were recorded mostly in 2017 and early 2018. Then in 2019 I was recording with Pharaoh and Mike Bushur’s new project Forbidden Cross. It felt like a quiet year. Aktor and Pharaoh are active bands, but only in the studio. High Spirits and my solo act Professor Black are also performing live. Dawnbringer and Superchrist are stone dead forever. And Forbidden Cross is up to Mike, I just play the drums.”
And if that wouldn’t be enough, Chris is also working on a book project about Bathory (for Iron Pages Books). He explains: “It’s coming along quite well, although it’s a really massive project and I can’t be sure exactly how far we still have to go. I think it will be a very powerful result though. It’s a very serious thing. This was also a main priority project during 2018 to 2019 and another reason my musical output was a bit less than usual lately.”
So to the new album »Hard To Stop«. A lot of listeners consider 2011’s »Another Night« to be the band’s best effort so far. Is that also Chris’ impression? “Yes, I think so. Although with vinyl and CD, »Motivator« sells just as much nowadays. If we are talking about streaming, then ‘Another Night In The City’ is definitely song #1, with song #2 (care to guess?) only getting about half of that number.”
So does “The Professor” feel any pressure for »Hard To Stop« to become as successful or even more successful than »Another Night«? “That pressure existed in 2013 and 2014,” he thinks, “but not so much anymore. If people want to hear another »Another Night«, they can just listen to it again.”
“I wrote it, I played it, same as always when it comes to High Spirits,” explains Chris the way »Hard To Stop« was approached. “There are advantages as well as drawbacks to doing it this way. But to do it any other way would not be High Spirits.”
One thing which always strikes me personally when I listen to High Spirits is the fact that the band’s music is so UPLIFTING: not happy, not cheesy, just uplifting. That is an forgotten art in heavy metal, isn’t it? Chris smiles: “That is, I think, precisely what brings us together, what connects us with our fans, and we take it very seriously. I think the record has a lot of variety, and it’s best to listen to the whole thing. Of course each listener will have her or his own favorites. Right now my favorite is ‘All Night Long’.”
“Hearts Will Burn” off »Hard To Stop« is probably the closest High Spirits will ever get to classic Euro Metal Helloween-style, right? “Hmm... Not the opening track, ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’?, asks The Professor. “But you’re right, German power metal is a big influence on High Spirits, just not always so easy to notice. ‘Hearts Will Burn’ reminds me more of a certain American band, or maybe a Swedish one, but that’s cool.”
“Voice In The Wind”, on the other hand, is quite unusual for High Spirits, almost like pop punk meeting »Crusader« period Saxon. Will the band’s core audience be open-minded enough to cherish this change in style? “I hope so,” says Chris Black, “but maybe not unanimously. I thought »Motivator» was missing a bit of variety, so a song like this was very welcome. It is surprising which songs can really take off for the fans, like ‘I Need Your Love’, which was a bit flat on album but became a total live-smash.”
»Hard To Stop« also includes a re-working of “Midnight Sun”, why did the band decide to re-record this number? “We came to find in the past couple of years that ‘Midnight Sun’ is quite a popular song,” Chris answers, “and meanwhile the only recording available was the demo version from 2013. That’s quite okay, but I think we should have a more professional version as well, maybe now the song will really blast into the top tier along with ‘Another Night In The City’ and ‘High Spirits’ etc.”
Riff wise one could well imagine a band like Girlschool playing “Now I Know”, it really does have that Motörhead/Girlschool feel about it. “Sure, I agree”, finds Chris. “At the same time, ‘Now I Know’ is in a class of High Spirits songs which I feel could be adapted to a variety of genres or styles of singing. Like ‘Reminding You Of Me’ or ‘Running Home’.”
High Spirits have played so many memorable gigs throughout their career but are there certain shows that stand out for various reasons? “Yes sure, quite a few. ‘Hell Over Hammaburg 2017’ was one of the most explosive in terms of the crowd reaction, just incredible. I think also the Rock Hard Festival in 2012, we were quite nervous and a bit in shock to have the opportunity, so I don’t think it was our top performance, but still, we connected with a great number of fans who have stuck with us until this day. At the other end we have done some very cool smaller gigs at pubs and even rehearsal rooms. We did a rehearsal room show in Newcastle which was just totally insane. And then there was the garage show in Nashville where everyone almost passed out from the heat...”

Matthias Mader