“Weighing You Down” is the lead single and the first track on Moose Jaw’s Highwind’s new six-song EP “Final Words,” a concept album of sorts that directly take on the process and aftermath of death from the perspective of those left behind.
Read the song titles in order – “Weighing You Down”; “At What Cost”; “I’m Making Amends”, “I Feel Helpless”; “In Hospice”; “These are My Final Words”. In sequence, they tell a story and form a poem that contemplates the lives left to live once a life partner has passed.
Lyrically, it’s dark, but sonically it’s aggressive, with crunching guitars, driving beats by Troy Waggoner and bassist Eric Taylor, and vocals from Charlie Rysavy that adeptly express the pain, anguish and angst of the subject material. “Weighing You Down” sets the tone for the next four songs, while the final track slows things down to reflect on things never said.
The hard-driving tune starts out with soft strumming by singer/guitarist Rysavy, quickly joined by an accelerating Waggoner drum roll. The tension picks up and 14 seconds in, new lead guitarist Ehren Pfeifer unleashes a circular guitar riff that sets the tone for a frenzied aural emo-punk assault.
It’s a dark, meaningful song, painting a bleak image of a loved one at the bedside of a partner in failing health.
“You hold my hand so tight as if this could be the last time
Overheard you pacing around last night
Could you just go home? And come back….
Cause it feels like I’m weighing you down?
Cause it feels like you’re waiting me out.”
“Final Words” is the first release from the Prairie-based band since 2016’s masterful full-length album “Cellar Door.” That record was recorded by the original three-piece band live off the floor at Regina’s Blue Door Studios. “Cellar Door” went on to be chosen as one of Sask Music’s Best Albums of 2016.
A four-year hiatus followed, but the band finally regrouped in 2020 to write songs. Along the way they picked up their fourth member, lead guitarist and sound designer Pfeifer.
All of Pfeifer’s stinging lead guitar parts were recorded in his bedroom in Toronto. The other members of Highwind sent him the tracks last year and he recorded on top of them. Pfeifer had never played with the band before, and they didn’t know what they were getting until he was finished. Despite that fact one would never guess that’s the case, as he fits the band like a proverbial glove.
The video for the single, out now on YouTube, was completed in a similar way. Each of the members of Highwind filmed their parts individually and it was all cut together afterwards. Two more videos from the EP are expected to be completed soon.
Chase intentionally recorded his vocals last on “In Hospice” and “These Are My Final Words” to ensure his voice sounded more and more degraded over the course of the album. “These Are My Final Words” was recorded in one take late in the day, which is why he sounds exhausted, just as one would watching their partner taking a final breath.
The six tracks on “Final Words” leave the listener wanting more. And Highwind has more from the EP’s sessions, that they hope to release soon as their next release. With this collection, and with Pfeifer on board, they certainly live up to the 2014 words of Vancouver-based magazine Permanent Rain Press, which stated” that they “might be the best thing by far to come out of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan…the band is capable of being more than just your average punk band.”
The single “Weighing You Down” and the EP “Final Words” are out now.