Holden – ‘Ursa Minor’   Leave a comment

Titled after Judge Holden, in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Holden now offer up their debut 5 track, ‘Ursa Minor’.

A complex fusion of post-metal and doom, with various other elements entwined within it, Holden’s sound showcases their creative expertise, especially in groove terms.

Lots of visual references are contained in ‘UM’. It stands as an effective symbol of its themes.

‘UM’ is the outcome of a year’s work and the 2nd album is currently in progress. This trio have a lot to give and deliver it with a solid punch.

After The Fact – Cautiously delivered cymbal intro, soon joined by a funereal drum and riff segment. Sludgy tones and doomy rhythms. Dalek-like death vocals, morphing into darkly melodic sounds, interweaving with the menacing Daleks. Mysterious aspects to the arrangements, with fuzzy riffs and lingering omens. Fading out, without much change.

Sparks Between Teeth – Deep, solid drum sound introing. Fading vocals, interlinking with aggressive roars. Just very sludgy and doom entrenched, with a constant low rumble of boulder like drums, bearing down on you, like a 100 tonne lead weight. It has to be said, it does consume you with a vast sense of hopelessness, from which there appears to be no prospect of escape.

However Small, However Hidden – A slight sense of light relief accompanies this breathier intro, scattered with lighter tones. It soon gets percussively depressive, though. Still slightly livelier than the previous track, speeding up, into a visually evocative endless circle of weighted psychedelia. So glumly heavy, it’s how I imagine the tail end of an acid trip to be. On the plus side, it’s certainly rhythmic, even if the groove does appear to have fallen down a steep, black hole. It’s pretty decent, production-wise and its sound values are consistent. It’s just that the melody’s making me beg for relief. As is the over-extended track length. No quarrel with musical technicalities, which are, in themselves, quite superior. The bleak mood it swamps you in just gets a bit much.

Emperor Of Maladies – Can this get any gloomier? Opening on a darkly atmospheric sound, it continues in much the same vein. A slight scratchiness to this, it combines blackened growls with lead-heavy accompaniments. Getting some speed up, around the mid-section, then slowing back down again, to deathly doom. The speed rises once more, as it crawls on, to the end, amongst the deadly ominous riff tones and drum fills, to a final cymbal hit.

The Way It Was And Will Be – Upping the mood, very slightly, with streaky riffs, performed with a bit of wobble and an airier sense to the percussion. Like a cruel joke, this, being the most tolerable track, is the shortest. Throwing in the trick of manoeuvring the sound in and out, just before the fade out, it then fades out, fully, on the same sliding riff.

Overall – Musically skilled, but ultimately bleak. Whilst much of the essence of doom is exactly that, you can overdo the gloom factor, as ‘Ursa Minor’ does. Technically proficient, but too depressive to bear further listens.

4/10 ****

For fans of Bludy Gyres, Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf, Electric Wizard, Witchcraft, Kyuss.

Released May 8th, 2020.


Posted March 31, 2020 by jennytate in Uncategorized

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