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High Tide - Sea Shanties CD (album) cover


High Tide


Heavy Prog

3.86 | 229 ratings

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4 stars Called by some a masterpiece of proto-prog-metal, "Sea Shanties" is somewhat rougher around the edges than its follow-up, "High Tide". Nevertheless, it is undeniably miles ahead of its time: a powerful, haunting wall of sound which is only let down by poor production values, all too revealing of the 37 years that have passed since the album's release. Strangely enough, though, the muddy sound quality adds to this record's almost sinister fascination - as well as the disturbing, distinctly gothic sleeve, possibly inspired by Coleridge's marvellous "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner".

The band's psychedelic roots are quite evident throughout the album, especially in Tony Hill's Morrison-influenced vocals and heavy, distorted riffing. What is really distinctive in High Tide's sound, though, is the presence of Simon House's electric violin, adding at times a touch of lyricism to the overall darkness of the compositions, at other times becoming as obsessively strident as its sparring partner, the guitar. As a matter of fact, the album's highlight features a 9-minute long duel between guitar and violin: the monumental "Death Warmed Up" is without any doubt one of the best instrumentals ever written, a driving, exhilarating tour de force which would be deserving of much greater fame.

This album is not for the faint-hearted, as its brooding atmosphere and fiercely distorted sounds can be heavy going for those who are more used to classic, symphonic prog. I also find the first part of the album better than the second, which tends to drag down a bit after a while - this is one of the things that prevented me from giving "Sea Shanties" five stars. In any case, "Death Warmed Up" is worth the price of the record alone. Enjoy the ride.

Raff | 4/5 |


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