High Vis were formed in 2016 from the ashes of some of the UK's best hardcore bands. Gild-toothed frontman Graham Sayle's anguished lyrics about life in working class Britain were familiar to fans of Tremors' full-throttle thrash, but alongside his former bandmate Edward `Ski' Harper and veterans of Dirty Money, DiE and The Smear, High Vis sought to transform that energy and intensity into something entirely new. Like scene-mates Chubby and the Gang did by pulling in unlikely source material from classic doo-wop or Micromoon have by combining everything from psychedelia and metal into their high potency mix,
High Vis' 2019 debut album, No Sense No Feeling showed the band were never going to be constrained by any sense of genre rules or regulations. Its claustrophobic rattle bore traces of Joy Division, Bauhaus, Crisis, The Cure and Gang Of Four lurking in the shadows. 2020's synth-driven EP, Society Exists, was further evidence of the band's restless creative MO.
High Vis' second album Blending sees them open their viewfinder wider than ever before. Alongside longstanding favourites such as Fugazi and Echo and The Bunnymen; Ride and even Flock Of Seagulls were shared reference points as the band worked on the album together. From the anthemic sweep of opener "Talk For Hours", through the title track's psychedelic swirl and "Fever Dream"'s baggy groove, it sees High Vis' sound blossoming into something with an unlimited richness. The hazy drift of "Shame" or the melodic jangle of "Trauma Bonds" may take them until uncharted waters, but they still have all the power and bite that made No Sense No Feeling so remarkable.
Lyrically, the album represents another leap forward too. Talking frankly about poverty, class politics, and the challenges of everyday life, Sayle's lyrics have always addressed the downtrodden and discarded communities across Britain slipping below the waterline. This time around, Sayle's lost not of that social consciousness, but he's looked at himself and his own emotional landscape, and in the process created something that feels more universal, that reaches a hand-out to people and ultimately gives a message of hope.
"To me, the lyrics are less selfish," reflects Sayle. "In the past, I couldn't see past whatever was going on with me. It's about accepting things and being open to conversations and learning to talk to people rather than just thinking that we're all doomed."
The song "Talk for Hours" is a prime example of that. Born out of an afternoon meeting up with an old group of mates "repeating the same thing and not actually learning anything about each other" it offers to actually break the cycle and to listen and speak frankly about shared feelings and experiences. "Trauma Bonds", meanwhile, traces the broken lines of those living in lost communities, but ultimately realises that despite our shared scars, there's still hope to move on to a better future.
"The message of the album is you're not who you're told you are," Sayle summarises. "You're not your class background. Whatever it is, you're not that. Don't resign yourself to thinking you can't be this and you can't be that." It's a vitally important message right now, and one that could be the motto for not only Blending, but for High Vis themselves.
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