Friday, April 29, 2016
Holy Grove - S/T
I’ve become aware of a trend towards sabbathy, melodic, heavy stoner-doom bands with female singers lately. Had the stoner-doom scene not always been so utterly male-dominated, I might not have noticed… but, you know, it was.
As such, it’s impossible not to take note of the recent emergence of bands like Windhand, Ruby the Hatchet, and Holy Grove, all of whom are female-fronted, and all of whom fucking slay.
Holy Grove brings something interesting to the table, in that the tones are thick and sludgy, while the riffs shift back and forth from contemporary doominess to almost classic rock-esque at times.
Recorded by Billy Anderson, this actually doesn’t feel like a Billy Anderson record – and by that I mean he didn’t do that thing that wrings a Melvin-esque sound out of every band he works with. Maybe it’s been a while since I listened to Billy’s work, or maybe he took a gentler approach with someone who clearly has their own vibe and didn’t necessarily need that Anderson crunch to sound thick and heavy on tape.
The vocal question, to me, has the potential to be pretty polarizing: would this record and band sound as good with a male vocalist? In other words, should it be worth mentioning the vocals for their female distinctiveness?
I guess it depends where you stand on the whole political correctness issue. I mean, we agree that we have a black president, right? We don’t have to tiptoe around that? So then, we can agree to discuss the merits of the vocals in gender-free terms while acknowledging that it’s indeed a woman belting them out. Agreed?
I like what she’s doing. It’s not the elastic operatic thing that some female metal singers do, nor is it the breathy, Mazzy Star-possessed by demons thing. She’s just letting it rip, God of Rock style. Or, Goddess of Rock, I mean. Whatever. It works. It rocks.
If you like your Windhand a little less graveyardy, your Ruby the Hatchet a bit more seismic, and your stoner rock a few ounces less testosterone-fueled… or you just want to hear a quality fucking stoner-doom record, then check out Holy Grove’s debut full-length. Available now here.