Reviews

Holy Figures, Luck of the Draw (New Morality Zine, 2020)

New Morality Zine boasts the sort of flawless and dependable discography that bewilders.

The Chicago-based DIY zine cum record label has consistently pushed essential listening since they broke the seal with Rule Them All’s essential opening gambit, An Alignment of Polarity

A cursory glance at their sterling discography should tell you all you need to know that anything bearing the NMZ brand deserves ears.

The Midas touch continues with their latest. North Carolina’s Holy Figures and their superlative Luck of the Draw marks yet another essential addition to their cadre of acts. 

Loosely built around morose yet oddly hopeful poetics, the four track song cycle centers around thinly veiled drug references that’re as open as they are harrowing. It profiles as well the romantic pull as it does the destructive abuse of the disease that is addiction.

The backing instrumentation is simultaneously powerful and vulnerable, laying itself bare when necessary. It’s a tremendous work, touring all corners of post hardcore. Let’s get into it, shall we?

“Beatrice” enters slightly muted with a defiant and shaky confidence before unleashing a staccato crunch. The vocals, fittingly, arrive laced in codeine, as resigned as they are dreamy. Holy Figures pull off myriad things exceedingly well, chief among them soaring vocal hooks.

Due to the song cycle’s inherently intense subject matter, it’s a deeply emotive reward when they rise from the murk of uncertainty with moments as triumphant as the first chorus. Though sonically dissimilar, there are flashes of Daryl Palumbo’s acrobatic vocal abilities, all while discordant and bent guitars swell and swirl around.

Holy Figures also manage to capture the dense drive of a band like Swervedriver. Of the more obscure references I hear, there are even moments that call to mind the muscular exploration of Sparta’s Wiretap Scars album.

Lead single “Lucille” is the type of song that stuns, both in or out of the context of the EP. It’s my favorite song of a freshly stamped and virgin year. It splits the difference between Handsome, Quicksand, and Snapcase, albeit with a fresh coat of choppy riffed paint.

Again, it’s the vocals set this band so far apart, making them the future touchstone for things that are destined to sound like Holy Figures. Hyperbolic tendencies aside, this tune floats to great heights. Much like addiction, they reach for the sky in their more lucid moments, but ultimately feel married to the soil and the nighttime.

“Lucille” captures the epic feel of latter day Sunny Day Real Estate after they found God and dusty prog LPs which, if you know me, is the grandest of compliments. The whole thing is lush, atmospheric, and cinematic. Incidentally, it’ll fit well alongside your Narrow Head, Downward, and Fake Eyes LPs. 

“Margaery” glides in awash in the pensive and mystical strains of a digital bath akin to the hazy charm of Deftones. What the band is capable of capturing with simple textures is jaw dropping.

For a just world to exist, I’ll likely have to reverse engineer a time machine and send this crawling up the rock charts in an alternate '90s, wherein Failure and Fireside usurped Cobain or Cornell.

Vocally, it’s again awe inducing and there’s even a hint of an alternate universe Layne Staley, had he grown up listening to Rival Schools. Lest you think they can’t pummel you, they end with crushing and angular Post Hardcore workout that drives the song to its logical destination

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“Eleanor” wastes no time embedding itself deeply into your brain, its earworm hook arriving in the opening moments. The band casually drops another stunner of a riff… a crunchy and propulsive section that ultimately segues into the EP’s best chorus.

Musically, Holy Figures are forever busy but never overplaying. The fills and melodies on this song, in particular, are exceptional. Shout out to serving the song. Not to be outdone, the final 30 seconds offer up the best grunge riff you hadn’t yet heard.  

Luck of the Draw is exactly that… a shockingly good first gambit from a band to watch. New Morality Zine strikes again, y’all. Respect. 

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