From the second “Ships Off The Coast” explodes to open All That Matters…, listeners will be able to intimately understand the ground on which Holy Beach is standing, thematically. There, sheets of distorted guitar and rolling waves of bass create a tempestuous current which will rock listeners, but also hold their attention dearly. Listeners will find that they’ve been thrown off-balance and held there (at first) by John Lally’s acidic vocal performance, but will be shocked when the song turns, the mood changes and the band earnestly rights the proverbial ship by smoothing (but not lightening) all the sonic edges through the chorus of “Ships Off The Coast”. This first assault is astounding, but how effortlessly the band resets its centre and vision is unbelievable; in that, listeners get a distinct impression of the power and discipline that the band wields and get an even clearer perception of it when the song collapses into “Fade Away” – a great transition which renders the end of one song and the beginning of the next indistinguishable.
After “Ships Off The Coast” and Fade Away” set the first precedents for All That Matters Is This Matter, “It’s The Fear” sees Holy Beach get away from metal and into fields of textural rock in the vain of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead before returning to a more grind-y permutation of metal in “Confident Prick” to close the side. There, Lally gets profound as he takes strips out of unseen aggressors (he regularly uses the song’s title as well as “Confident cunt” as his kiss-offs of choice throughout the song) and then just unceremoniously fires one last blast to close both the song and the side. Top to bottom, the only way to quantify the experience that the A-side of All That Matters… is to call it “kinetic,” and the result of that performance is “draining to follow”; it’s harder than hell and fantastically unrelenting in its demeanor, and those who are able to make it through will find themselves trembling as they reset the stylus for the album’s B-side from the exertion alone.
…And the B-side does not leave those who were hooked by the A- wanting. The side opens with “Incest In The Herd” which, somehow, feels instantly MORE metallic than any of the cuts which appeared on the side’s predecessor; sonorous and doom-y guitars drive the cut ceaselessly while Lally aims for a more monotone vocal performance to give the cut a shade which makes it feel more dangerous and inevitable. That sense of inevitability combined with a healthy dose of Melvins-issued sludge informs “The New Colossus” (which is the standout song in a set of really solid cuts) which is so well-presented that it ensures it will cast listeners off-balance and so leave them wide open and receptive to the assaults embodied by “International Graves” and “Skullfaced on a Horse.” There, Lally lightens his tone and speak-sings his lyric sheets which adds a sense of hopelessness which feels absolutely perfect for this album. Lally could easily have screamed or barked out his performances for these last two songs and it might have been effective, but the sense of exhaustion that the decline in vocal performance implies here brings with it a sense of collapse which is just hypnotic. When the side ends and the needle lifts, listeners will feel as though they just endured a fantastic and brutal experience with the band which left an indelible mark on both parties. The energy which radiates off this album is unbelievable, in that regard, and the best part is that, all combined and collected together as it is on All That Matters Is This Matter, it is perfectly unlike the work of any band who may pretend to be Holy Beach’s peer. One can only hope that the band has more in them, and this album isn’t just a one-off.
(Ursa Minor Records)
All That Matters Is This Matter is out now and available on vinyl on Ursa Minor Records in limited quantities. It is also available here as a download. https://holybeachatl.bandcamp.com/releases