Sound — 6
Stone Temple Pilots formed in 1986 and kept a stable line-up for 27 years - let that soak in for a minute - before finally attempting to fire the vocalist/frontman who had helped to write most of their greatest hits. Of course, their front-man, Scott Weiland, was also a drug addict and alcoholic. Oh, and maybe just a little bit of a diva. Since then both sides have been launching lawsuits against each other like it's going out of style. So everybody has strong feelings one way or another about whether this firing should have happened or not and whether the band should continue on with a different vocalist but at the end of the day, you have to let this EP speak for itself. There are 5 tracks on "High Rise," and the EP clocks in for a total of about 16 minutes. The tracks "Out of Time" (which has been available for download since May 2013) and "Black Heart" were made available before the release of the EP.
The EP opens with the track "Out of Time," which is the heaviest track from the album. The song, rhythmically, is very reminiscent of something that might have been released in the early days by STP. "Black Heart" is up next and tries to rely too heavily on a catchy little riff that is over-used so that I was tired of it by about 30 seconds in. "Same on the Inside" might be the song where Chester Bennington's original identity comes out most in the vocals, as well as showing the band trying to stretch their legs a little bit, creatively. "Cry Cry" is another riff-driven track, but more expertly executed than "Black Heart," and with a chorus that actually got me tapping my foot. "Tomorrow" is possibly my favorite track on a strictly instrumental scale - it just has a vibe/feeling to it that is pleasant - but one of my least favorite vocal tracks. I can't say that this stands up to STP's other releases, and I'm not a fan of the way the EP was mixed. With all that being said, it isn't a bad EP it just doesn't stand up to STP's back catalog.
Lyrics — 6
Scott Weiland was replaced by Chester Bennington, the vocalist for Linkin Park, in early 2013. This was quite a big deal for Chester Bennington who has always been an openly huge fan of STP, even stating that his lifelong dream was to sing vocals for STP. Of course, he definitely isn't living up to Scott Weiland's legacy circa "Core," but neither was Scott Weiland in recent years, to be honest. Chester Bennington does an adequate job at vocals - unfortunately, that is about it. There doesn't seem to be any strength behind his vocals, which is something that seems necessary in a band like STP. At his best Chester sounds like his own person doing a decent job with the vocals, but at his worst he sounds like a bad impression of Scott Weiland. I really think that what needs to happen is Chester to quit thinking about Weiland, so maybe it will be a good thing if their lawsuit with Weiland forces them to change their name. Needless to say, I have mixed feelings about Chester doing vocals for STP. The backing vocals are decent. The lyrics are solid and fairly engaging. Here is a sample of the lyrics from "Same on the Inside": "Sending out a message to the world/ But I just can't seem to find the words/ No one wants to die alone/ Broken and insane/ Question every last decision/ Another empty page/ Do you know the answers? / Tell me, I find my happy ending/ When do we start pretending that/ We're all the same on the inside/ Wanting what I know won't satisfy/ Just to live this, need to live a lie/ Never meant to run away/ Jumping out the train/ My cage was built on good intentions/ Running every page."
Overall Impression — 7
I can't help but feel like "High Rise" is trying too hard to be radio friendly for rock and alternative stations, but maybe this is just me. There seems to be a stronger current of "pop" in their sound than I've previously heard except in small flashes. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it isn't something I'm happy about, either. I know I've said my fair share of negative things about this EP, but there are also some flashes of the same type of genius that released albums like "Core" and "Purple." To me, this is especially visible on passages from "Out of Time" and "Cry Cry." I really wanted to like the track "Black Heart" just because I liked the song title, but it just wasn't doing anything for me. I think that there is some promise for the future from the band; especially of Chester Bennington starts being himself instead of a poor copy of Scott Weiland.