There’s something about a grandiose epic. Whether it’s a sprawling concept album or a film like Lawrence of Arabia, there’s something to be said for wanting to take your audience on a sweeping journey. Unfortunately, not a lot of bands harbour these ambitions anymore. Many bands don’t swing for the fences so when one does, you’re forced to stand back and listen.
Holy Esque is a band that swings for the fences and their latest album, At Hope’s Ravine, certainly hits the mark. Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland and appearing at the SXSW Music Festival, Holy Esque have crafted an album that is both deep and listenable.
As soon as the drum casually kicks in on “Prism”, the album’s opening track, you know what you’re in for. The song builds to a crescendo carried by drummer Ralph McClure and powerful vocals from singer Pat Hynes before crashing down and finishing with a dizzying flurry of instrumentals. From there, the album does not let up with all instruments getting a chance to shine and Hynes’ unexpectedly melodic vocals constantly keeping the music grounded.
It is there, during the albums few quieter moments, that the lyrics get a chance to shine through. Particularly on “My Wilderness”, these moments expose Holy Esque to not just be a one trick instrumental pony but a band that writes complete songs.
Standout tracks include “Rose” and the title track (as well as album closer) “At Hope’s Ravine”, but to truly immerse yourself into the strengths of At Hope’s Ravine, the album must be listened to in full. It carries you into Holy Esque’s world, allowing you to sit back, open your ears, and follow them into the inner recesses of their minds. When listened to in full, the songs bleed into each other in a way that recalls being at a festival – wind blowing, a cold one in your hand, sun beaming down, and a never ending vibe in the background.
At Hope’s Ravine is a big album. Lots of instruments, soaring vocals and it sounds best with the volume turned way up. This is what swinging for the fences sounds like and, in this case at least, bigger is definitely better.
Holy Esque are Pat Hynes, Keir Reid, Hugo McGinley, and Ralph McClure.
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