November 9, 2018 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.