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With its 2013 studio release Never Going Back and the sizzling follow-up Live & On Fire, hard-rocking trio Vdelli created Tsunami-sized waves that traversed the globe from its headquarters in Perth, Australia and crashed down hard upon Continental Europe. The lyrical purging of personal demons on cuts like "Change The View" and "Dream Girl Nightmare," paired with a muscular musical attack, resonated with fans and critics alike. Never Going Back was hailed in the German press as a "true steamroller of an album" (Access All Areas) and a "superb album of timeless quality" (Breakout) and was selected by Rocks magazine as one of the top albums of the year.

But despite that album's resounding success, band leader Michael Vdelli was in no mood to try and repeat the formula on his newest studio effort, fittingly entitled Higher. Instead, the aim was to kick it up a notch and take the combo's already-potent blend of powerhouse rock to the next level.

"The only preconception, in my head at least, was to make an album that shows we can write and perform contemporary rock that is relevant," says singer, guitarist and chief songwriter Michael Vdelli. Yet this doesn't begin to tell the whole story. When they hunkered down to make Higher, Vdelli and bandmates Ric Whittle (drums) and Leigh Miller (bass) all felt ready to push the sonic envelope. "We recorded it at home in Australia and did heaps of crazy stuff, getting sounds and messing with amps, drums and mic placements and effects. We had it sounding more like a garage band at this stage. Very raw and aggressive, pretty much like our previous two CDs." 

The trio then called upon German co-producer Achim Lindermeir (who also worked on the 2010 release Take A Bite) to give the raw files a bit more punch. "Achim streamlined the whole thing and made it sound more modern and a whole lot slicker. This is why we got him on board – to give us a fresh sound and help launch us into broader market acceptance."

But don't let that statement fool you: Anyone who listens to Higher should get ready for a wild and adventurous ride. After the prog-tinged teaser "Don't Know How I Got Here," the disc charges out of the gate with the buzz-saw energy of "Catatonic" and soon adds echoes of gospel to the heavy sludge of the title track "Higher." "Dark and Lonely Place" is an entirely different animal: a somber and melodic semi-acoustic tale. The album hits the home stretch in full gallop with the brisk "My Baby Does It Better" and reaches breakneck speed on "The Only" before crossing the finish line with the chugging riffs and swirling electricity of "Alive Again" – surely Vdelli's most experimental number to date.

A readiness to take risks applies to the vocals as well. Determined to leave his comfort zone as a singer, Michael Vdelli enlisted the help of friend and contemporary Christian Parkinson of the Perth-based outfit Sleeping Giant. The transformation is so remarkable that long-time listeners may barely recognize him on some of the new cuts. "Christian would take what I had sung and say, 'Why not try singing it like this or that?' Which was awesome! His influence on some of the melodies should not be underestimated. His voice is also throughout the album singing power backing vocals and adding his unique color to our sound."

Higher. The name suggests a continuous ascent. Like being halfway up a mountain and taking the next leg of the journey toward the summit. Or having a good buzz on when the band kicks in and transports you to another dimension.

That kind of upward movement is what Vdelli's fifth international release for Jazzhaus Records is all about. "Artistically," says Vdelli, "I feel we've achieved our goal of producing something fresh and energetic that has progressed from our last effort. So now we wait and see how it is received by the people. I can’t wait to be on the road playing these songs live!".


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