Review: Holy Esque – ‘At Hope’s Ravine’

holy esque at hopes revineHoly Esque

At Hope’s Ravine (Beyond The Frequency)

8.5/10

Four years into their career, you might think it’s little surprising that Glasgow’s Holy Esque have only just got around to releasing their debut album. But At Hope’s Ravine signals a band that have spent that time wisely.

Back in 2012 we spoke with singer Pat Hynes on the eve of the release of Holy Esque’s first EP and at the time he was resolutely down to earth about their fledgling success. Fast forward four years and At Hope’s Ravine is a collection of tracks that sees a band having truly flown the nest and landed firmly in their own territory.

Opener “Prism” shakes with a primal urgency before resonating bursts of guitar and Hynes’ distinctively gravel worn vocals come into play. Hynes’ voice is so intense and has such an undercurrent of existential pain to it that he sounds as though he’s exorcising some serious demons. And it’s this interplay between thundering sonics and emotive forcefulness that make Holy Esque such an exciting prospect.

“Rose”, a track culled from their initial release, has been given a reworking and sounds much bigger and brighter than its predecessor. The towering guitar work and racing beats drive the track forward with a seemingly unstoppable energy that lasts the full length of the track.

Recent single “Hexx” and “Silences” deliver successive hits of racing melody, gnarled with a gritty energy and The Jesus And Mary Chain style noir. But all this exuberance is underpinned by an latent darkness as Hynes’ vocals lend the tracks a compelling sinister edge.

The religious elements that permeate Holy Esque’s aesthetic go beyond their name and cover art. Tracks like “St.” and the album’s title track are shot through with flashes of personal imagery and have a hard edge that reflects the industrial concrete and religious tensions of their home city. But all this is dealt with through the lens of a band tapping into a reservoir of energy that makes each track sound like a call to arms.

At Hope’s Ravine is an album that has been a long time coming, but it’s one that’s shot through with so much visceral intensity, it would be impossible for anyone to say it hasn’t been worth the wait.

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