Bully by High Tension (LP)

Bully

What to do with a Christmas voucher at JB Hifi?  Something Australian, noisy and hostile sounding on red vinyl is the final choice.  Bully is High Tension's second album. This Collingwood 4 piece punk outfit have been getting some well-deserved attention lately, so I thought it was high time I formally acquired some stock in them.  I had the good fortune to hear the previous album also (Death Grip) and a little of “Young and Restless”, the Singer and Guitarists prior incarnation who are also interesting. 


Album lineup
Karina – Vocals
Ash – Guitar
Matt – Bass
Damian - Drums


Side A. 


Bully - The rasp of the needle unleashes the title track. Bully begins with the slow, ominous trudging drum beat as Karina drawls menacingly over the top before exploding into the "get out of my head" chorus. They are taking this to quite a different place to the Death Grip album.  Expectations exceeded, and I'm already seriously impressed. The YouTube clip of this is also worth a look, as they do consistently cool things in their clips. This one involves female bareknuckle fight club.  And if you are in the mood to scoot around YouTube for HT songs, The Collingwood "high five" line from Death Grip still makes me snort. 


Guillotine - This begins as a heavy agitated groove that develops into an explosion.  Guillotine is probably the most telling song of this album as it shows their progression from the first album, where they have that bit more confidence to develop the songs a little longer, and to make their move from softer sounds to detonation point that much more dramatic.


Sports - The guitarist builds the tension on the intro and this track has teeth.  Karina is screaming "let's start" over and over. My fave for this album.  Don't listen to this before you start work, you will stab people! 


Killed by life – This is up-tempo and starting to enter more traditional punk territory. It does not feel obligatory though; it’s really more of a welcome change of pace. You can hear some melody in this piece and it works well, perhaps why they chose to make a youtube clip for it. 


Iceman - The tempo and aggression have skyrocketed now, and this is quite a busy, frantic feel that you can already picture in a live scenario. I am not 100% sure what this song is about even with the lyrics in front of me, but they are 100% pissed about it.


Lapindo - Matt Young from King parrot features vocals on this track.  He sure keeps himself busy (guest vocals on Cryptic Abyss album and he's also in Heaven the Axe “good things” as well as other projects and normal relentless touring).  Two of the most abrasive vocalists in the Aussie metal/punk game combine screaming/screeching forces to create the most unique song on the album.  Pretty sure it’s about Indonesian Oil and Gas drilling company PT Lapindo Brantas who may have been negligent in their drilling process, causing mudflows lasting 7 years which obviously affected local residents.  If I’m reading the Jakarta post right…


Side B.


Hell, Repeat – Plenty of anti-religion bile in this track.  It also has a slick mid-tempo feel as it rebuilds itself in the bass driven breakdown. 


Take control – This brooding song opens and develops quietly, and is probably the longest track at over 5 mins. The shrieking chorus lets you know it’s still a HT record however and it rocks out satisfyingly at the end.


Mass grave – This starts off with a silly sounding guitar part and then has one of the most jaw droppingly abrupt changes I've ever heard.  I am sure they had fun rehearsing this to be as smooth as it is.  At just over a minute and a half, few of these tracks overstay their welcome and it leave you wanting more. 


Static screens – HT are surprising me with some interesting melodic treatments in this one, and it’s really quite an addictive song.


Lucky Country Part 2 – The bass and drum driven verses build this piece well, though I’m not sure where part 1 of Lucky Country is.   


What's Left - Sadly, we come to the final track all too quickly.  With guest guitar from Adalita (Magic Dirt) per credits (and some vocal contribution also from the sound of it), this is only song where lyrics are not entirely written by Karina but the guitarist Ash shares the lyric credit.  This winds up a very energetic pace with a surprisingly musical finish. 


Get this, it will leave you wanting more and pissed that you missed their recent local shows in your town (as I did).



Bully

Reviewed by Matt Brown
Vocalist & bassist of the band The Burning Colours

Bully has been released by Cooking Vinyl Records in 2015. High Tension are from Australia.

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