(We present Andy Synn‘s combined reviews of the three EPs released this year by the Nevada band Holy Death.)
Today’s edition of “Short But Sweet” is a little different.
Rather than covering three EPs by three different bands, instead we’re going to be taking a look at three different EPs by the same band, Las Vegas-based Death/Doom disciples Holy Death, whose debut EP, Supreme Metaphysical Violence, came out back in February, and was followed soon after by June’s Celestial Throne ov Grief.
Then, right at the end of last month, they dropped Deus Mortis, which is around about the time I jumped on the bandwagon… which brings us right up to date.
SUPREME METAPHYSICAL VIOLENCE – 2020
The band’s beefy Death/Doom credentials are quickly established on “Supreme Violence”, the EP’s opening pseudo-title track… although maybe “quickly” is the wrong word to use, as it’s a full minute before the guitars actually kick in (not that the sluggish, sludgey bass-lines aren’t thick and meaty enough to carry the song’s opening on their own), and another minute until the vocals – an ugly blend of bestial growls and belligerent, Sludge/Hardcore snarls – make their appearance, transforming the song into a three-way mix of Asphyx, Crowbar, and Xibalba (and, yes, it really is as heavy and ugly as that implies).
And while “Empty Grave” is, surprisingly, a minimalist, mostly ambient, interlude, that doom-laden destruction continues during the gruesome, gut-churning “Pound Ov Flesh”, which eventually dissipates into moody melodic outro whose eerie vibe carries over into the morose instrumental interlude of “Nothingness”.
Concluding with the unexpectedly atmospheric and desolate strains of “I Can See the Pale Horse”, which marries the group’s sludge-soaked, slow-motion heaviness to a sense of introverted introspection that adds a whole new facet to the band’s sound, while this record may be a little rough around the edges in places (it is the band’s first proper recording, after all), overall Supreme Metaphysical Violence makes a compelling case for why the band should be considered “ones to watch” (and you won’t have to scroll very far to do so).
CELESTIAL THRONE OV GRIEF – 2020
For their second EP the trio decided to push themselves a little further by writing a single, twenty-minute track (entitled, obviously, “Celestial Throne ov Grief”) which sees them cleaning up both their sound and their songwriting without removing all the integral grit and grimness.
With a clearer, more well-rounded, but no less rugged, guitar tone, and a sharper, snappier drum sound, there’s no denying that Celestial Throne… slides a lot more smoothly into the ears. But, if anything, it’s actually an even darker release than its predecessor, especially when it comes to the ways in which the band weave in an extra dose of doomy melody amidst all the groaning riffs and gravel-gargling vocals.
It’s also worth noting, without going into too much detail, that “Celestial Throne ov Grief” actually sticks the landing, despite its extended length, keeping your attention engaged through every morbid movement of dragging doom riffs, melancholy melodic ambience, and gargantuan, gut-shaking grooves.
DEUS MORTIS – 2020
Take a quick glance at the track list. Notice that it ends with a cover of “Wolverine Blues”?
Well that should be a clue to the fact that Deus Mortis is the band’s most Death Metal focussed release yet.
Ok, so opener “Ritualistic Pain” is all hypnotic drum rhythms, droning, distorted bass, and creepy ambient embellishments, but that’s a slight red herring, as when things really kick off, with the savage “Spiritual Degradation”, we’re introduced to a version of the band that’s noticeably riffier, more aggressive, and that little bit more up-tempo (although they don’t abandon their doomy roots entirely, as epitomised by the song’s crushing finale, which slows things down to a morbid, mid-tempo crawl).
Then there’s the terrifying title track, which is a disgustingly intense Death/Doom dirge (emphasis on the “Death”), which features some of the nastiest riffs and gnarliest vocals the band have ever recorded, as well as some absolutely malicious melodic hooks and a dash of brooding, bass-driven sludge (making it also one of the best songs the band have ever written), while “A Crown Grows Out ov His Head” delivers all the chunky chuggery and doomy drama that you could wish for, as the band continue to (somehow) get even harsher and even heavier as they grow in confidence and skill.
So, on the evidence of these three EPs, there’s a very good chance that the group’s next release will be their best yet!