OK, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Female-fronted Portland outfit mixes heavy riffs and soaring vocals on one of the best doom metal albums of the year. Only this time, we’re not talkin’ bout Witch Mountain, but rather the second record from recent Ripple Music signing Holy Grove.
II kicks off with a killer trad doom riff on “Blade Born” that brings the likes of Pale Divine to mind. The vocals come in overtop a rolling groove that gets yer head nodding not even a minute into this thing. Chorus is a little more mellow, shades of Windhand or Royal Thunder, but neither of them play this heavy anymore… The breakdown around the 4:30 mark simply crushes!
A cowbell-driven drumbeat actually kicks off “Aurora,” which, at a shade under four minutes, is a better alternative to radio-rock like Greta Van Fleet. The 70’s style retro fuzz is strong with this one, and fans of Zeppelin, Mountain and the like would surely dig it. On the other hand, “Valley of the Mystics” clocks in at nearly 11 minutes, with shades of Gates of Slumber, Argus and even Atlantean Kodex in its epic approach to power doom. The verses are more mellow and vocal driven, but there’s another excellent riff for some slow-motion headbanging action in the bridge/chorus.
“Solaris” is another nine-minute doom metal epic, with shades of Castle in the soaring vocals and crunchy riffage – this one doesn’t hit as hard as the rest of the record, IMO. But they end things on a spacey, fuzzy note with 12-and-a-half-minute “Cosmos,” injecting some shimmering synth sounds—and even a string section—into their heavy cosmic doom. Song structure is somewhat similar to “Valley of the Mystics,” what with the lighter verses, although the pounding bass line and soaring vocals are more akin to Acid King. Either way you slice it, it’s a pretty heavy trip…