High Rise, “Live”

Sometimes the Japanese have this ability to take a genre of music and push all the levels up to 11. Take High Rise, for example. Unleashing their first overdriven assault in 1986, High Rise II started forest fires with incinerating solos and knocked down doors with a battering ram rhythm section. Their psychedelic worship was tempered by a devotion to thrashed out punk rock, as if laying a branding iron on the ass of The Ramones early releases. Eight years and one album later, High Rise recorded what would become their defining moment. Since their debut, the band focused progressively less on punking out and more on the fiery psychedelica of Blue Cheer and 60s homeland heroes, Les Rallizes Denudes. Live captures the spirited trio at their rawest and most comfortable. Listeners might as well be inches away from dilapidating stacks of amplifiers pushing hellacious riffs. Guitarist Munehiro Nirito dominates tunes with mangled and seemingly endless leads. Though the vocals and bass work of Asahito Nanjo are intentionally buried in the mix, his walking melodic pulses and calmly sung vocals pop through the fuzz just enough to be a presence. High Rise paint the aural canvas with the widest, funkiest brush in the toolbox — swaths of bristling feedback riffs. Live doesn’t offer listeners much breathing room with pyroclastic versions of “Ikon,” “Mira” and “Mainliner” (except for the eight and a half minute fuzz boogie jam, “Door”), but it’s one of the finest ways to drown in sound.

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