Looking back on it now, some of the uncertainty and hesitance towards All Hail The Yeti feels quite undeserved. With the way that some spoke about their fusion of metalcore with groove- and southern metal, you’d think they were some radical new prospect ready to rend unfixable divides between fanbases, when really they’ve not done much of anything at all (and plus, it’s not as if metal fans aren’t perfectly capable of dividing themselves anyway). Their first two albums have been ultimately fine, but for something fresh and exciting that pushes the boundaries of a genre that’s been pretty strained in that regard in the past, All Hail The Yeti aren’t that band.
Of course, it’s not like there’s anything wrong with that – not every band can change the world, nor should they necessarily strive to – but when the biggest comparisons that can be made are the likes of Pantera and Mastodon, two bands who’ve gone on to physically shape and redefine their own individual portions of the metal landscape, it’s not unfair to expect a bit more. And sadly, Highway Crosses isn’t that bit more, another fine album that comes in a list of consistently fine albums to struggles to rise above that at any point. Even with regards to highlights, as much as the title track and Seymour Avenue have in the way of crushing stomp and a distinctly melodic bent, they remain a case of ticking the boxes to ensure that everything that All Hail The Yeti need to do is here in all the right capacities.
It’s not as if this can’t work either; even an album that is just fine has quality, and when each of All Hail The Yeti’s individual elements conflate into a rather streamlined and straightforward brand of metal, they can do a good job at it. The tar-thick, sludgy guitar tone is a good foundation to build on, particularly when it’s allowed to really seethe in the background like on Live Everyday, and Connor Garritty’s bellows bring a certain level of wildness that locks in that sludge-metal element as possibly their strongest asset. There’s not a lot of speed or complexity on show here, but when All Hail The Yeti dish out their more feral, raw side, the results speak for themselves. But that’s also about all this album has to offer, and by the time it reaches the halfway point with tracks like Anti-Social (Media), a screed against social media that couldn’t be more by-the-numbers and yet feels so out of place here, the steam has completely been used up, and All Hail The Yeti are reliant on whatever inertia they’ve build up previously. It’s not precisely boring – the heavier focus on pure riffage is an easy enough sell for it to remain interesting – but for a band whose core sound consists of so many different individual parts, the fact they all come together to sound like a B-rate Mastodon is a little disappointing.
And if that sounds even remotely appealing, it’s not as if you’ll go into this album and get nothing from it; it mightn’t totally stick as long as others in the genre will, but there’s definitely enjoyment to be had in some form. The problem, though, is that, when bands like Mastodon and Baroness are doing this sort of metal to such a high standard, All Hail The Yeti look even more like pretenders with less to offer than they really do. Again, this isn’t bad, but any albums from either of those other bands will prove exponentially more satisfying.
For fans of: Mastodon, Baroness, Clutch
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Highway Crosses’ by All Hail The Yeti is out now on Minus Head Records.