All Hail The Yeti – Highway Crosses

Reputation is a weird and wonderful thing. See, All Hail The Yeti haven’t really done anything wrong on their first two releases, yet depending on who you speak to, the picture painted isn’t always positive which, considering the component elements of their sound – polished Sludge Metal with mainstream stomp elements and a knack for vocal hooks – is quite surprising. Yet each album cycle is a chance to stake a new claim, and by enlisting Grammy award-winning producer Warren Ryker the Yeti is showing ambition on third album Highway Crosses (minusHEAD).

After an inauspicious start, ‘See You Never’ at track two shines with a Mastodonian gleam, snaking a The Hunter esque melody over a winding head-nodder, swaggering hand-in-hand with the title track, a WrestleMetal stomp combining with a cool hook-laden chorus, its muscular partner in crime. Other highlights include the brooding ‘Slow Season’ that is nicely placed to lead you from the anthems into the more considered sludgier material that makes up the majority of this curing carcass, and the Stone Sour-esque lurching knuckle-rapper, ‘World Is Cold’. That said, there is a similarity to songs that form the belly of the beast, though that is not necessarily a bad thing, and each has something, be it a guitar flourish, a distinctive riff, or a vocal hook or two, that tries to distinguish it from its meaty brethren.

Yet the problem is once you take Highway Crosses out of itself and present it to the wider universe and pitch it against recent contemporaries. When you’re swimming in a sea where the biggest shark has not only shat out leviathan whales in the past but is only a year removed from the exceptional Emperor of Sand, being solid may not be enough and all too often, tracks like ‘Withdrawal Delirium’ fall into the unspectacular category, while, despite an earworm of a chorus, the involuntary cringing at the lyrics to ‘Anti-social Media’ undermine its message.

All through you can see effort has been put into ensuring the grooves, the sludgier moments and the vocals (both harder hitting and catchier clean ends of Connor Garrity’s range) have their own space to breathe, and, within a scope that covers Sludge, Hardcore (the more obvious elements, at least) and Mainstream Metal, there are attempts at diversity while retaining an overarching cohesion. A decent stocking filler, for sure, but if All Hail The Yeti want to make it under the tree in future seasons there’s still more work to be done.

6 / 10