Gevork Matevosyan- Vocals/Guitars
Narek Avetisian- Guitars
Michael Semerdjian- Drums
When I first started listening to Highland’s Debut, ‘Loyal To The Night Sky’, I had to double check that I hadn’t accidentally opened some mid 90s Norwiegian Black Metal somewhere else on my computer. But no, this is an American Black Metal three piece, and from the moment the opening track on this record kicks off, it is solid, headbang inducing, riff focused fun for the duration.
I realise that it’s occasionally frowned upon these days to describe Black metal as being catchy, but some of the sections are delivered with such confidence and flare that they are infectious and nearly dancable. Even from my relatively sedate half slouch on the sofa, I was almost constantly nodding my head. There are no frills here. The production is refreshingly modern, without being too polished. It serves well to ensure that everything can be heard with decent clarity. While I don’t always find this necessary, the tone is not neutered as a result, so I appreciate the balance that’s been struck.
During the hour run time of this album, there is not a dull moment. Not one. And for an album full of razor sharp Black Metal riffing firmly in the style of the Scandinavian 90’s greats, that is no mean feat. Great riffs aside, the songwriting is superbly executed and cohesive and it holds together very well throughout. The whole band seems very comfortable in their musical roles, with each member putting in stellar performances. Highland set about unfurling a collection of fantastic black metal tracks that drag the classic sound wailing and screeching into the modern era. While so many bands try to find where to push black metal next, it’s great to see a band so successfully extracting more great material out of that classic sound.
It’s difficult to find fault with what’s being offered up here. Loyal To The Night Sky stands up next to many of the classic albums that have clearly inspired it. Some listeners may be bored to tears of orthodox style Black Metal. But for those that arent, pick up a copy of Highland’s debut album. It won’t look even slightly out of place next to that stack of Immortal albums.