The rock world gets gritty and low with Brooklyn’s Highly Suspect and there “No F’s Given” attitude.
Low and soulful blues rock is a style that is NOT focused on in the current radio scene. The only time you can even come close to hearing anything that deep is when you walk by a local dive bar in a big city. It’s a shame because there is something extremely natural and relatable with everything in this style, from the lyrics to the low bass line.
So when a big name media outlet like Rolling Stone even acknowledges that a band with this sound is an upcoming band you need to know, then it is definitely something worth paying attention to. A three piece group from Brooklyn whose attitude can be defined as “no f’s given” also sends a message as a band worth noticing.
Gritty blues rock bands like Highly Suspect should remind people what can be done with just the basics. Vocals. Guitar. Bass. Drums. No special effects, no digital layering, just raw music. There is a very personal and close feeling when listening to music like this and it’s hard to explain until you put in your headphones and just listen.
Mister Asylum marks the Brooklyn natives first full length LP. Playing music like this in a market dominated by nu-metal and screaming is not an easy task and can easily be swept under the rug if it doesn’t leave an impression. Leading with the single Lydia, a song about a past relationship, Highly Suspect set an instant impact with gravelly vocals and a great build.
When I first heard this song on Octane I was instantly swept up in the vocals. There is a raw talent here and a fire in the expression. It all stands out well and is very audible in front of some fantastic bass and drum rhythms. Hearing the lyrics “I can’t Breath” shouted just resonates with some great imagery and this song just feels emotional and powerful.
You can hear an audible passion in Johnny Stevens and the Meyer brothers’ performance in this song. It truly feels like this track is something you can hear just as clear and loud in person as it sounds on this recording. Lydia is a fantastic way to introduce new listeners to a band.
One remark I must make about this song is that while it shows the vocal talent well, Lydia does not come close to demonstrating the instrumental talent that these three possess. There are tracks in Mister Asylum that show the abilities that Highly Suspect are capable of – from deep rhythms to absolutely brutal guitar solos. As far as blues rock goes, this album offers a fantastic hybrid of the sub-genre into the rock world with varying speeds and intensity.
Where Lydia was a great introduction to the style of Highly Suspect, songs like Lost are the ones that showcase what the band is capable of. A majority of tracks on Mister Asylum tend to resemble the style of Lost more than Lydia, but only in the most positive of ways. While there are tracks that bring the tempo down to an extremely low tone, there are others who set the room on fire.
With ten tracks at an average of about four minutes, you get the impression that these three took their time in creating this album. It was a work that took years as opposed to a stretch over a few months where the band tried to flesh out some time to add to three good songs. Even if not every second is absolute poetry or a musically composed masterpiece, you can definitely tell there is drive behind it all.
Normally when you hear someone describe their personal motto as “No F’s given”, you tend to be a little turned off. In the case of Highly Suspect, you can hear it in their music that it’s a life motto in a good way.
Overall, Mister Asylum is an album worth checking out for any gritty rock fan looking for a new group to follow. And just like Rolling Stone suggested, this band is one you need to know about, because if they continue to grow from an album like this, then the sky is the limit.