Highly Suspect released their high-anticipated third studio album Friday November 1, 209 via 300 Entertainment. The album is titled after the bands slogan, MCID, which stands for “My Crew Is Dope”. The thing I have always loved about Highly Suspect is their ability to adapt and evolve and this album is evidence that this is their focus. All 16 tracks are unique and stylistically different while remaining true to the band’s signature sounds and influence. The album takes some risks that will have typical fans of heavy music feeling out of their comfort zone, showcasing varying approaches, maintaining Highly Suspect’s history of writing deep and methodical lyrics about often taboo subjects while adding their own signature grit and style to it.
MCID contains several different themes and sounds, setting the band apart in a year full of impressive new music. One of the early released tracks, “Upperdrugs” is a classic Highly Suspect tune. It has the slow, bluesy feel with shredding guitar lines and a chunky bass line that gives it the feel that has gotten the band to the limelight. “These Days” contains more of the pressing riffs that have become the band’s signature and give it a mix with the clean harmonized vocals.
“Snow White” is another track that screams throwback for the band. It has a lead riff that starts off on guitar before echoing on bass, driving the whole track. The vocal work is spectacular and showcases Johnny Stevens’ unique and gritty sound. Speaking of quality vocal performances, the lead single “16” is an emotional track about a really rough situation from Stevens’ childhood that really highlights the quality of musicianship and writing on this album. The track was recorded without a single guitar but still has that grit and rock feel that the band is known for.
One of the musical themes this record focuses on is a rap/hip hop feel. Stevens goes by the pseudonym “Terrible Johnny” and is in the process of producing a rap album in his own name. This influence is prevalent in places on this album. “Tokyo Ghoul,” one of the lead singles, features Young Thug and has an over-the-top, hip hop-inspired hook and beat. The rap feature works nicely, but the “Terrible Johnny” verses seem a little forced at times. On the other hand, the opening track, “Fly,” has a really cool hip hop vibe that I really responded to. This song has a good message about overcoming pain and hardship. There are some really cool effects and tones in the bridge that give it a unique sound.
The album does have a few songs that take a heavier approach, one housing my favorite track on the album is “SOS” featuring Gojira. It starts off with heavy, distorted vocals before settling into a groovy feel reminiscent of Nirvana or Stone Temple Pilots with the vocals slowing to half-time over a relaxed beat. The heavy vocals and Gojira’s signature touch slide, back in for the bridge and the exit, make it an enjoyable song for sure. “Canals” is the heaviest song on the album featuring an aggressive tone and quick lyrics that walk the line between spoken and sung. The chorus is the biggest and most over-the-top on the album and the lyrics “I don’t fucking care, if you fucking care. ‘Cuz I’m gonna live forever, so you better be prepared…” are some of the most fun on the entire record.
MCID may not be for everyone. It is experimental, unique and can’t be categorized. I am sure it will catch some flack for not fitting into a box. The breadth of talent and musicality on this album is evident from the first track and the album’s diversity keeps you guessing as to what comes next until its conclusion. MCID is a lot of fun on the whole and definitely worth a spin!