It’s often said that music is the product of its surroundings. As far as Glasgow’s Holy Esque are concerned, nothing’s truer. Reflecting both the stark brutalism of the city’s architecture and the imposing countryside of Lanarkshire itself, the band’s debut is a deft dichotomy of uncompromising walls of noise and sweeping sonic vistas.
An album not just ambitious in its composition but thematically as well, ‘At Hope’s Ravine’ is both opulent and sparse; a contradiction manifest in the recurring motifs of fear, love, religion and escape. For those familiar with the handful of EPs the band’s released since their inception, such formidable grandeur will come of little surprise. Where it was once contained in to the relatively short run-time of an EP, here its allowed to run its own course, resulting in a record that peaks and troughs with gloriously wilful abandon.
For such an uncompromising album it retains an impressive buoyancy. From the instantaneous uplift of ‘Rose’, the mounting, wistful optimism of new single ‘Hexx’ or the shimmering and shifting textures of ‘St’, each of these tracks offer snatched moments of respite between the record’s darker and more desolate cuts.
Though the juxtaposition of light and darkness is very much an aspect which backbones the record, the two often meet and merge within a single track in spectacular fashion. ‘Dolls House’ for instance offers arguably the most dynamic diversity on the record; a subdued, moody melancholy contorting in to dissonance.
Essentially, what each track on ‘At Hope’s Ravine’ has in common, is the blistering intensity with which it’s delivered, culminating in the ever-intensifying title track and the cathartic sonic explosion with which it bows out. A staggering debut album.