Holy Esque are a band vulnerable to comparisons, like so many rising musicians that face journalistic scrutiny do. They deny any label to Franz Ferdinand, just because they’re also from Glasgow and have connections to the city’s School of Art. The comparisons to Wu Lyf seems more accurate, but are hackneyed and overused; just because of Pat Hynes’ husky, harrowing vocal style. These dull comparisons only come from the few EPS and singles, which have contributed to building their debut album, At Hope’s Ravine.
The album opens with the murmuring synth and embellishing grave drums of ‘Prism’. The tone on this first track sets the precedent for the intensity of At Hope’s Ravine: a weighty and twisted inner-conflict. The album’s title seems to reflect a very personal retreat from an abstract gloom, in to the narrow corridor towards some sanguine end.
Early songs ‘Hexx’ is an energetic bluster (with a bizarre romantic montage video to accompany it), while the shadowy innards of the band are exorcised on ‘Covenant [(III)]’. Although the vocals are marvellously melodic, they sound intoxicated and are sometimes had to decipher, but the suppression of the vocals are illustrative of the album’s themes.
‘Tear’, Pat says, is “essential to the make-up of the band” and is the anchor for the two central themes of the album: “darkness vs light and hope.” This track sees a turn towards strain, yet striving for settlement, away from the tortures of what came before. This is eloquated in the final two tracks, ‘St.’ and the finale ‘At Hope’s Ravine.’
For a debut, At Hope’s Ravine carries the vivacity that many newer bands promise, but do not deliver. And, finally, their sound is undeniably unique, please stop these unbearable comparisons.