There is a sense of urgency all the way through “Highway Crosses”. As if to prove the point there is no preamble, no opening riff to the opening song “Live Everyday”.
Rather, we are straight in as Connor Garrity screams “take a look into our lives, the past is left behind.”
And, given the varied journey these 12 songs take over the next 40 odd minutes, if this is life, then it’s a nightmarish existence, mostly.
Make no mistake about it, if All Hail The Yeti’s 2016 effort “Screams From A Black Wilderness” was dark (I started the review with the sub-headline “Be afraid, very afraid” then “…Crosses” sees them develop on just about every level.
Given the sound here, not for nothing have AHTY toured the world with bands like In This Moment, Motionless In White, Max & Iggor Cavalera, Hollywood Undead, 36 Crazy Fists, and Life Of Agony. An eclectic mix, maybe, but here’s the crucial bit: All Hail The Yeti would have fitted in with all of them. And sounded like none.
If you want to you could write one of those things that goes like this. “All The Hail The Yeti sound like Slipknot having a knife fight with Corrosion Of Conformity with some black metal grilling on the barbecue” and whilst that might be a neat line, they deserve more than glibness.
Because “See You Never” is a chugging slice of modern metal, but then try and talk about the title track. “Highway Crosses” essentially sums All Hail The Yeti up because you can’t sum it up. Y’see, there is a touch of CoC about the opening minute or so, but then the second verse – like a plot twist you never saw coming – is written from the standpoint of a serial killer (“you’re very pretty I am murdering you….”) and the third act in this movie, is a monstrous breakdown akin to Soulfly. And the references to “plots” and “acts” are reasonable too, given that the feel of All Hail The Yeti is cinematic in scope.
You know when you’ve done something a while and you feel like a change? That seems to have been the mantra of All HaIl The Yeti on album number three. They can crush like Down when they want to. “Slow Season” is your proof. Then the next song “Felo De Se” is closer to AX7 and their arena bothering anthems.
Even the choice of Producer reflects this mongrel-like approach. Warren Riker might have worked with the aforementioned Down and NOLA legends Crowbar, but he’s helped Lauryn Hill, Santana and Michael Jackson get shit done too.
Here, he presides over the likes of “Withdrawal Delirium” which absolutely slams and “World Is Cold” which takes a sledgehammer to your humdrum existence, “Wake up, and punch the clock to work another day, worn out, you talk the walk, but it’s all the same…”
This is for those who believe in something else. Whatever that something else is. And it is helped along by astonishing songs like “Seymour Avenue”, about the terrible kidnappings in Cleveland a few years back and “Anti-Social Media” which takes the modern world to task and wins. “I’m sick of feeds and filters….the end of days has now begun,” spits Garrity with impressive venom and bile.
“Necktie Party” comes in with more gristle and swing than most manage, while “The Nuclear Dust” ensures the record ends with a call to arms. Depending on your take, it is either a tale of the post-apocalypse, or it is the way the world is destructing now. And it needs fixing.
That won’t be the only debating point when thinking of “Highway Crosses”. Bands with such extremes – in all senses – as All Hail The Yeti don’t come along often, and theirs is a brutal, often unwelcoming, yet superb, world.