Holy Esque – “At Hope’s Ravine”

If you take equal parts of The Cure and Kings Of Leon, and make the last half up from genuine originality, you get Holy Esque.

This indie/alternative quartet formed in Glasgow in 2011 by East Kilbride homebred Keir Reid (keyboards) and Pat Hynes (vocals), they were joined by Ralph McClure for the drums, and Hugo McGinley for the guitars. East Kilbride is also known for fostering The Jesus And Mary Chain, so the legacy is set for Holy Esque.

Reid actually met McClure on Glasgow School Of Art, which have had students that became members of Franz Ferdinand, as well as cradle for prominent Scottish painters and writers. The stage should be set for some serious creativity.

“At Hope’s Ravine” is, according to the band, “…..about belonging, fear, love, self doubt, dreams, religion, release, dark and light, and mostly escape”. Hynes said in an interview that “…the lyrics are about life events and experiences”. He’s right – but in a very abstract way. The songs are somewhat abstract and require the listener to pay close attention in order to really hear what Hynes is saying. This way of writing can sometimes backfire, because you can easily loose the attention of the listener. But in the case of Holy Esque, it works.

You can hear and feel the post-war concrete housing environment on this album.You can feel the worn street and concrete walls under your feet – pretty much to the point where you want to put on your leather jacket and sunglasses, and take your pale skin for a walk in the gnarly grey streets.

The sound is encapsulated in a healthy dose of reverb, that luckily never becomes too much. The guitars are what brings me to think of Kings Of Leon – this ringing single-string sound, compliments singer Pat Hynes’ kinda possessed voice. I have no idea how he does it. It’s best described as a constant vibrato – it becomes a tiny bit too much some times for my taste. Sometimes it sounds a bit like he’s drowning, and even for this genre it’s a little too much sometimes. But, okay, it fits the sound, I’d just wish it would only be on some of the songs.

The album starts with the gnarly guitars of “Prism” and we get eleven solid tracks, produced by Grammy award winner Jon Schumann, who also produced for Danish bands Mew and Kashmir.

There’s a raw and dark-ish feeling throughout the album, and my favorites are “Silences” and “St.” which are more uptempo and more rock’n’roll than the other tracks. Visually, the whole album is like a black and white grainy Trainspotting sequel, which is a good thing.

Genre: Indie/AlternativeLabel: Beyond The Frequency
Release date: February 26, 2016Available on vinyl, cd and on your favourite streaming service.
Check out the band at facebook