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Would've been average but the singing killed it. - 43%

The_Ghoul, December 29th, 2008

[NOTE: I am completely rewriting this review. Because my initial opinion of the EP is worlds apart from my current feeling, I felt it was best to do a complete rewrite.]

So, where to start? Well, this EP is short, so I'll keep the review from ranting too much. The long and the short of it is, however, that we have 2 original songs and 2 covers. Well, I'll be damned if the covers weren't the better songs present. That both songs were rather drek to my ears says a lot about the two original songs. Some bands grow on me after a while and their appeal increases with time. Not Holyhell. In the span of a few short years, this band went from being OK to being completely impossible to listen to. Why is this? To put it simply, this is average music (in every sense of the word) with purely atrocious singing. How I could have ever liked the singing is simply beyond me. Perhaps I was younger and more easily swain by the fairer sex. Perhaps I was going through my Manowar phase and gobbled up anything related to Manowar (two musicians here have worked with Manowar at some point, and this EP was made through Magic Circle, Manowar's label).

Whatever the reason, I have grown annoyed with this band these days. Front and center, Maria Breon's voice sticks out like wailing cat, and I don't mean that in a good way. Sure, she keeps a pitch (most of the time) but her range is questionable and her glottal is the ugliest thing to have come out of a woman's mouth since Udo's penis. Every time she starts her phrases, her tone warps heavily, becoming over-nasal and less able to carry a pitch. I guess she was going for a "rock"-ish style, but I fail to see how such a style would mesh with the more keyboard-heavy parts, and even the most "rough" sounding power metal singers (think David DeFeis, Sir Russell Allen, hell, even Manowar's Eric Adams) know how to produce a cleaner tone when the situation called for it. Breon doesn't. She just wails away in that powerless atonal yell. I can't describe well enough how grating her voice is. I'd rather listen to Dani Filth's horrid diarrhea while getting pins in my temples than hear Breon sing again. However, such singing is exacerbated by stupid lyrics. I said earlier that the two better songs were the covers, and part of that is that Holyhell's lyrics are stupid. Like 7th grade stupid. Angsty crap that deals with a subject (dark vs. light) that's been done to death, not only in the metal world, but EVERYWHERE. And the thing about bad vocals is that they make bad lyrics that much more obvious.

However, for me to truly condemn a piece of work, the music must be bad as well as the vocals. And this is the centerpiece: even if you took away Breon's singing and replaced her with a far more competent singer, the music would still be painfully average. I know Joe Stump is a great guitarist, and I know Rhino is a great drummer, so WHY DO WE NEVER SEE THEIR SKILLS? And furthermore, why are they playing such generic gothic metal? This really prevents Holyhell from taking off, and aside from the duet with Eric Adams, gives me no reason whatsoever to endure Breon's terrible singing. Most riffs seem to be just barre chord after barre chord with no end in sight, and even though the sound is keyboard-dominated at times, even the keyboards seem content playing just chords. Even the guitar solos, which should have been another key point, given Joe Stump's involvement, sound neutered and rushed, with a very linear style and lack of inspiration. I know Stump is capable of more, and for that matter, the drumming of Rhino could easily be faster and more technical. Everyone is simply taking the easy way out to make way for the horrendous singing, which only serves to highlight how embarrassing of a singer she is. I simply cannot throw my support behind a band who's main selling point makes me wanna destroy my stereo.

And since they gave us an EP full of generic gothic metal with mediocre performances from everyone except the singer, who gave us atrocious performances, I will not grace Holyhell with a longer review. I think I have spent as much time writing this review as they did writing and recording this album.