The latest from The Higher Craft is sadly also the band’s swansong as they have decided to cease activities. But they created lots of great music in their six year run and that’s pretty good in the underground. Like its predecessor, the 2011 released The Quest into the Steppingstoneage, the new Delta 9 album defies simple categorization, drawing on Metal, Prog, Space Rock, and Psychedelic influences to create a theatrical Rock extravaganza. The band are the quartet of Christina Poupoutsi on vocals and keys, J.D. Tait on guitars, keys and vocals, Andre Thung on drums and percussion, and Richard Alan Weeks on bass and narration, plus guests on flute and narration and original guitarist Craig Twining on a couple tracks.
The album opens with The Healer, which starts with a brief narrative endorsing the benefits of cannabis, and then breezes into a dark but majestic Space-Symphonic segment before launching into the brand of Psychedelic theatrical Goth-Metal that The Higher Craft established on Quest into the Steppingstoneage. The theme continues on the title track with a compositional complexity that sees the music swing through Orchestral-Metal, operatic intensity, and fiery instrumental gymnastics. This is Rock theater meets Space opera at its very best, with the band covering a variety of ground. I like the bouncy yet orchestral Prog powerhouse Dirty Paradise. The high intensity yet uplifting Space-Prog-Symphonic Meta-Universe incorporates elements of Metal, Goth and Space Rock, and an incredible array of vocals and narration. Each track transitions seamlessly into the next, including periodic space-ambient segments with narration. Listening to the narration it sounds like the theme is a sci-fi tale endorsement for cannabis. Go get ’em Christina! Diamond Dealers hop-scotches from swingin’ in the cosmic canteen, to spacey lysergic disorientation, and on to Space-Symphonic dreamland. Sagacious is a kick ass rocker that’s like Symphonic-Prog Hawkwind. I like the combination of high intensity Rock and acoustic Renaissance on Para-Toxic Dream. Far King Clue is a heavy rock smack in the chops, a gentle ride into space, and a carnival ride all rolled into one. Galaxias Kyklos consists of bewitching theatrical Metal with a cosmic edge. And Freedom Pass closes the set with deep space symphonic waves, rave-in-Goth-space beats, and steady paced melodic Rock.
I like all the music The Higher Craft created but on Quest into the Steppingstoneage and now Delta 9 they really hit their stride with the establishment of a powerhouse theatrical sound that is distinctly The Higher Craft. I highly recommend reading the interview I did with Christina in 2011 that coincided with the release of The Quest into the Steppingstoneage, in which we learn about her background and interests in theater (CLICK HERE). If you know the band then waste no time checking out Delta 9. Newcomers should start with Delta 9 and backtrack from there. See you all in 2021 and then again in 2028.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz