When the Lights Go Down
Label: HIGH SPIRITS
The one-man work of Chicago's Chris Black, whose ruthless resume (Dawnbringer, Pharaoh, Nachtmystium) explains his connection to Hells Headbangers Records, High Spirits surprises by being a jubilant vinyl-LP-length homage to AOR-leaning, power-ballad-to-speed-riffed early '80s Def Lep hesher metal. In a zit-popping high register, Black keeps a straight face through cliché after monosyllabic cliché, driving to his town's edge and pouring his heart out to a crush, infectiously lamenting "One Thousand Nights" he's spent alone, but soaring toward sundown in "High Spirits" (theme song!) regardless.