Holygram – Modern Cults (Album Review)

Holygram – Modern Cults (Album Review)

Contrary to the usual complaint of many rather jaded fans of either Pop or Rock music—that “there is nothing worth listening to anymore these days”—every decade or generation is actually steeped with interesting new bands whose works deserve inspection and recognition. Thus, the problem is not the lack of good music; but the inability of many older, self-proclaimed music enthusiasts to keep up with the times and to appreciate new music. For instance, in the Post-Punk/New Wave genre alone, so many young bands have emerged in the current decade—Snuff Redux (“Denim American”), Breathe Panel (“The Time, Always”), Pale Waves (“There’s a Honey”), and, yes, Holygram.

Formed in 2015, in Cologne, Germany, and comprised by Patrick Blümel (vocals), Sebastian Heer (drums), Marius Lansing (guitars), Pilo Lenger (synthesizers), and Bennett Reimann (bass), Holygram have finally released their much-awaited proper debut album.

Released Friday, November 9, 2018, on Cleopatra Records, Holygram’s first full-length, titled Modern Cults, is a melting pot of the members’ influences—from New Wave, Krautrock, to Shoegaze. It opens properly with the scathing and joyful, Gothic assault of the title track, emitting sonic forces of the forefathers of the genres within which Holygram operates. The cold and dark energy then continues with the equally upbeat and ominous “A Faction,” one of the album’s carrier singles. With the ensuing “Signals,” the thumping basslines and pulsating drumbeats slowly take the listener to the center of the neon-lit dance floor.

“Dead Channel Skies” is an even darker affair; its slightly Industrial feel emits clanking sparks of early Ministry (“My Possession”), whereas “Hideaway” reeks of recent Gary Numan (“Bed of Thorns”). Then there is the driving, synth-drenched “Still There,” in which Vocalist Blümel and the rest of Holygram seem to have come out of a night’s spree of Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration and Camouflage’s Voices & Images.

Slowing down the beat a bit and subtly chilling the atmosphere for good measure, “Odd Neighbourhood” is what may be described as a stark, wintry Cold Wave ballad. With “She’s like the Sun,” Holygram then return the listener to Modern Cults’ overall Goth-charged Dreampop nostalgia. The penultimate track, “Distant Light,” then comes looming like an electrified, Shoegaze sonic ray, casting aural echoes of the likes of My Bloody Valentine (“Sometimes”), Ride (“Taste”), and Catherine Wheel (“Shallow”).

Finally, Holygram wrap up their refreshing album with its greatest moment – the wistful and heartrending Goth/Synth ballad “1997,” which shines with strains of Joy Division (“Decades”), Lowlife (“Ramified”), A Clan of Xymox (“A Day”), and Interpol (“Hands Away”).

A better representation of the quintet’s style (which fans first heard via Holygram’s 2016-released EP), Modern Cults is certainly a future classic—a collection of both nostalgic and futuristic cuts… compelling and fulfilling, depressing and glowing at the same time. CrypticRock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Modern Cult:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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