Mid-Week Quickie: Holy Grove II

If there’s anything more pathetic than a 55-year-old boomer trying to write a blog about Recovery and heavy psych/stoner/doom, it’s only posting a handful of times per year.  To add to the pathos, I have about 12 posts I’ve started but not finished, as if I’m waiting to write the perfect observation about Black Yoga and Stoner/Doom spirituality.

It ain’t gonna happen: I’m not that good a writer.

In that spirit, I’m taking a searching and fearless look at my writing and posting habits, and I’ve decided to make a change.  Fuck the perfect!  I’m giving myself 20 minutes to write a post, 10 minutes to format and publish.  Most of it will probably suck, but it will be an earnest effort in doing so. I’m calling it a ‘Mid-Week Quickie.’

Ready set…

Oh lordy above!  As the year winds down and I start to sort out my top 10 albums, I thought nothing was going to unseat Messa’s Feast for Water as my favorite album of the year.  Then, out of the blue, heaven AND hell conspire to unleash Holy Grove- Holy Grove II. Nothing could have prepared me for this album. I’ve heard some really good, probably great, music this year from the likes of Plainride, Saint Karloff and other lesser-known bands putting out a first-or-second album.   Sure, the greats are still the greats- Yob, Witch Mountain, and Spacelsug all delivered genre-defining works that lived up to their legacies. No small thing, that.

Holy Grove seems on an entirely different level.  It’s like they listened to all the releases this year, took notes on their weaknesses, and then proceeded to kick some serious ass.  And serious ass they do kick.  The guitars are as thick and heavy as anything this side of Master of Reality. The bass is forceful and present, with enough flourish not to be boring while focusing on the foundation of groove and movement that needs to be here. The drums are amazingly tight and focused while lending some serious swing to the rhythm section.  Oh, and they have the balls to inject “Aurora” with an introduction with…COWBELLS! Seriously? And with nary a cliché to the pounding…

But Holy Goddess, the vocals!  Relative newcomer Andrea Vidal bellows out a blues-tinged wail that has just the right amounts of sass, volume, and ungodly RASP to it.  This girl can seriously bring it, and the videos I’ve seen indicate it’s not a studio trick: she’s got some dangerous pipes, dangerous enough to give Kayla Dixon (Witch Mountain) a run for the money. I don’t write this lightly- Kayla is a deity unto herself. Also, there are effects and harmonies, but if there’s any auto-tune applied it’s subtle enough not to be noticeable.  I’m guessing no auto-tune is needed.  The sound is too raw, too wild, too damn real.  Nothing brings her voice out more than centerpiece tune “Valley of the Mystics.”  Don’t take my word for it, check out that damn song and prepare to be amazed.

In sum, this might unseat Messa and the glorious voice that is Sara. The music is so damn tastefully heavy, with each member bringing intense focus and energy. The vocals are truly astounding. This is a completely original work, which is hard to pull off in the Stoner/Doom realm.  Most bands don’t even try, yet I don’t think Holy Grove can help it.

Ok, 20 minutes is up…

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