Heights caused quite a stir amongst their fans in the middle of 2012 after kicking out ex-vocalist Thomas Debaere. This alienated some of their fanbase a fair bit, as you would expect from a line up change in ANY band. The bands had a good response from their debut album 'Dead Ends' and so there would be a lot of pressure on bassist, Alex Monty, to deliver vocals on par with Debaere's.
'The Best Years' opens the album and already you can tell that the band have definitely tried to go for a different style with the sophomore album. The music is more melodic and a bit "easier" to listen to. And obviously, the vocals are different. Monty's vocals seem to be deeper than Debaere's, but he screams in the same sort of style, keeping the 'Heights sound' lingering around the melody. I can't necessarily say that one vocalist is better than the other, because I'd be lying, but Monty's vocals are definitely more fitting with the sound that Heights are trying to achieve with album number two. The following song 'Eleven Eyes' is definitely more aggressive than the previous song, but still manages to keep some melody, there's also some great guest vocals from Sam Carter (Architects) at the end.
One of the stronger tracks on the albums is 'The Noble Lie', it opens with some great drumming and has stunning guitar work to go with it, this is also the first song where we get to hear Alex Monty actually sing. He doesn't disappoint. This isn't the last of his last vocals, they're used to great effect towards the end of the album.
Fear not, hardcore fans! Heights haven't completely forgotten about what helped make their debut so successful. There is a handful of tracks on this album that keeps the aggression that you know and love. Tracks like 'Stray Rats' and 'In Transit' will keep you very happy with some fast paced drums, guitars that will melt your face and vocals that will make your ears bleed. That's hardcore, right? Normally I'd think screamed vocals on their own don't seem to work overly well, but there's something about the repeated "Death, married me. I'll be the best man I can be. Disaster, followed me. And I can hardly breathe." in 'In Transit' that I just love. Just so aggressive, only to be improved by the gang vocals later on.
The songs 'Repeat' and 'Wake Up, Fall Asleep' act as the "calm before the storm" on this album. 'Repeat' is a very mellow interlude and 'Wake Up, Fall Asleep' is a great song that starts of rather soft and showcases Monty's voice with some beautiful singing, as well as some angry-as-fuck vocals as the song gets heavier. 'Forth / Here' then kicks in and leaves you wanting to punch everything in sight, always a great way to end an album!
Overall I'd say if you're a die hard of the first album, maybe this might not be for you, but there are definitely some tracks worth checking out. The band have definitely tried some new things and have experimented quite a bit, this is always great to see with upcoming bands. It's also very safe to say that Alex Monty definitely lived up to the role that he had in the band. Solid album.