Doom…with a twist
Review by Gary Cordwell
Release date: 18 March 2016
From the mist-shrouded woods and hills of Portland, Oregon, emerge Holy Grove – offering unto us this, their debut, self-titled album – and a goodly slab of mystical, vaguely occulty Doom it is too!
And they waste no time in getting down to some seriously retro riffery. Andrea Vidal’s vocals counterpoint the heaviness, lending the music a folky, ethereal air which works perfectly for these lyrics of sorcerers and “unfortunate mystics”. Her vocals float and soar above the big ‘ole lumbering riffage of ‘Nix’, as it builds in intensity, oozing towards a punishing, spacey, Hawkwind FX driven finale.
The songs are uniformely heavy although they do vary slightly in style. The title track definitely has the shadow of Mr. Iommi looming in the background as well as masterful dynamics. It’s sense of light and shade is expert in its execution, switching as it does between quiet atmospherics and booming powerchords and from there into a final sludge-out.
‘Huntress’ ups the heavy ante again, its downtuned riff is menacing and oppressive, finally kicking up a gear into a trammelling stampede. Faintly folky intro’s are flattened by Electric Wizard levels of overwhelming doomery, as are the occasionally bluesy fills found elsewhere. The solos are also uniformly brilliant – wild creatures, bastard offsprings of Billy Duffy and Jimmy Page.
Final track ‘Safe Return’ is a perfect summation of the album as a whole. Jazzy, Bill Ward style drumming underpinning a booming riff, chanting, distortion, more riffs, flawless tempo changes and vocals that reach for the sky…and skittering wah-wah solos…and a big finish.
Holy Grove are a good band, raised up a level by their vocalist – her contribution giving the band a genuinely unique feel, she is their not-so-secret-weapon. Imagine Stevie Nicks fronting Cathedral and you’re pretty much there. If Doom with a twist is your kind of thing, then this will be…urm…your kind of thing.
7 out of 10
- Death Of Magic
- Holy Grove
- Hanged Man
- Safe Return