There’s something in the waters of Richmond, Virginia. There’s no other way to explain the plethora of talented acts that emerge from one of the oldest cities in the US. The latest to spring up out of nowhere are Holden – named after the mysterious Judge Holden from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian – whose debut Ursa Minor lands as a bold statement of ill-intent. It will be released on May 8th 2020.
There is no pigeon-holing Holden at all, a band that is as much about heavy prog as it is about atmospheric fuzz. Ursa Minor an album that is as likely to get the head banging as it is holding it in sheer disbelief at the frenetic and progressive sound that emerges it.
It’s only five tracks long but across 40 minutes, Holden deliver a masterclass of modern, thought-provoking and challenging heavy music. After the Fact is a step deeper and deeper into the mucky slush that has the weight of doom and sludge about it but with cleaner sound. Then Sparks Between Teeth ups the tempo for a faster and groovier effort, a real banger and seemingly too short at just over 7 minutes!
That’s not the case though with the 15+ minute sprawling heavy progressive effort that is However Small, However Hidden. From the opening heavy rhythm to the complexities of the guitar riffs to the battering achieved as the track breaks down, this is every bit the ‘epic’ the length suggests it is. It’s a long, drawn out experience but one worthy of anyone’s time.
Exhausted? No time to rest although Emperor of Maladies is far shorter and much more compact. However, it’s also the most disjointed. The jerky rhythm and biting vocals akin to a fit, a very heavy fit.
Finally, Holden wrap up Ursa Minor with a super-short heavy outro. The Way It Was and Will Be closing things out with a smattering of guitars and drums, drifting away only to come back in briefly.
A mental workout but one that is so satisfying.
Holden – Ursa Minor Full Track Listing:
1. After the Fact
2. Sparks Between Teeth
3. However Small, However Hidden
4. Emperor of Maladies
5. The Way It Was and Will Be
Holden - Ursa Minor (Self Released)
The Final Score - 8.5/10