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Holy Fail, Crisis in my Eardrums - 36%

heavymetalbackwards, January 6th, 2011

Holy Grail are a recently formed heavy metal band, and they’re barely heavy metal. They’re actually closer to the music of Hammerfall, Primal Fear, Dream Evil, and 3 Inches of Blood; it’s borderline power metal in sound, spirit, and lyrics. Some people consider Holy Grail part of the so-called heavy metal revival movement (a movement I personally deny existing), but I just don’t understand it. They are not playing a style of metal that has ever been unpopular in recent history. Hammerfall and their peers have been juggernauts in the metal world for over a decade, and that’s what Holy Grail are playing. What the hell? Since when did that kind of stuff ever go out of fashion or slow down in production. It’s ubiquitous. If this band were European, there is no way anyone consider them heavy metal revivalists. I bet some of it has to do with their close connections to White Wizzard, because if the heavy metal revival does exist then White Wizzard would certainly be a good example of it.

My second complaint with the band is the blatant metalcore influence on a few songs. They’re scattered throughout the album, but a prominent example that comes to mind is the fry screaming on the song Cherish Disdain. And no, it’s not the only song with metalcore screams and breakdowns. I sometimes think that I’m listening to Killswitch Engage covering Dio (haha, like that would ever happen), and at its worst points like I’m hearing Avenged Sevenfold. The singer has some probably unintentional similarities to the A7X vocalist, which isn’t intrinsically bad; I can’t blame the guy for the natural timbre of his singing voice and coincidental cultural associations that are less than flattering. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t going out of his way to imitate M. Shadows.

So, besides these low points, what does Crisis in Utopia specifically sound like? It has soaring melodic vocals, catchy and powerful choruses, technical soloing and drumming, and crystal-perfect production. It is very accessible and inoffensive, but by no means bad. The singer has a tasteful level of grit in voice, and he can scream and shriek like the best of heavy and power metal singers. The overall sound, while a bit plain for my ears, is very palatable and well-done. Some songs like “My Last Attack” and “Chase the Wind” are really enjoyable, uplifting metal songs from start to finish. Unfortunately, the songwriting is mediocre. For metal that tries to be epic, there’s a lot of verse-chorus trite which is boring because while memorable, the refrains aren’t exactly anthem quality. They could probably never write something as powerful as Manowar or Saxon. They go through the motions to make good but never great tracks.

I read an interview with this band and it all makes sense. They claimed they wanted to bring back heavy metal, but give it modern touches and push it forward so it wouldn’t stagnate. Well, this band would be a lot better if they were openly and admittedly a throwback band and kept the metalcore out. Yeah, I hate it when bands forcefully try to be retro because I believe the feeling of true metal and traditional pride should come naturally and never contrived, but that pet peeve is far less annoying than throwing in the Shadows Fall touches to otherwise fun music. You know, while Holy Grail is far superior to Trivium, they share some similarities to that abomination in the sense that they combine an old-school genre with trendy –core while considering themselves a sincere version of the former.

Anyway, to all you heavy metal fans out there, be warned before you buy. If you’re looking for something that sounds like the really genuine metal, bands like Riot and Accept and Anvil, then you are better off with a band like Cauldron or Enforcer. Those are modern bands who know what true heavy metal sounds like, and they’re very in touch with their roots. Holy Grail are a mediocre-at-best novelty who occasionally get things right IF you have a taste for modern power metal. Don’t let anyone fool you; Holy Grail are reviving nothing, and despite what some people say there is a very strong metalcore overtone.