Artist: The Holy Guile
Remember the days of The Crimson Armada? I do, with a certain delicate fondness–their debut release Guardians took my still-forming metalcore sensibilities and helped mold them into something mature. Whether or not you’ve any lingering sentiment for The Crimson Armada is irrelevant to the matter at hand–for while The Holy Guile maintain some of the same structures and styles (which is practically unavoidable when you consider the act was formed originally as a side project), FSU, and indeed the entirety of the band’s sound and style hinges on the extreme. Laden with lacerating blast beats, stellar synth, magnificent vocal work and superb song structure, FSU is the sound of a band who have not only found their niche, but mastered it to near perfection.
Instrumentally, The Holy Guile demonstrate a veritable mastery of electronically-influenced technical deathcore. Featuring devastating, blistering blast beats and grimy, groovy heaviness, every track on FSU, in one way or another, contains a well-honed and refined aspect of deathcore which jumps right out of the track and socks the listener in the jaw. “Uberdouche,” a track which appeared on the Guardians 2.0 EP, features a stunning breakdown with quick drumming and some of the catchiest synth-work to have ever graced my ears. The Holy Guile also prove extreme proficiency with their stringed instruments as well; “Kthxbye” opens with a catchy, intricate riff and ends with stunning harmonics and popping bass. Likewise, “Hey Zeus” is packed with grindy blast beats and jarring, high-pitched guitar squeals and panic chords that stand out brilliantly against the deep, earthy heaviness pervasive throughout not just the track, but the entire album. Not only are the instruments at the top of their game throughout the entire album, the vocals are consistently engaging and brilliant as well.
Vocally, FSU is absolutely relentless. Vocalist Saud Ahmed takes the reigns and leads the album from “above average” into “stellar” territory using eclectic, diverse vocal styles. With screeching, piercing highs and devastating, bellowed growls, The Holy Guile bring a unique vocal dynamic to the table which is not to be reckoned with. “Fap Fap” and “Hey Zeus” make brilliant use of Ahmed’s sky-high screams while “Kthxbye” opens with a building-leveling powerhouse of a growl which morphs its way into the high-pitched shriek we’ve been accustomed to. The track continues toggling back and forth between the two in a manner which demonstrates not only extreme vocal control but brilliant use of contrast. While the vocals (and lyrics–see “Stoke Stokely” and “Hey Zeus” especially) are the source of The Holy Guile’s greatest single aspect, they are also the source of the band’s sole hiccup. “Idahoe” contains an odd nu-metal-esque rapped section which seems straight out of a Hacktivist track. While it isn’t bad, it is out of place and seems to interrupt the flow of what has the potential to be the album’s best track.
Where The Holy Guile really do it right, however, is the culmination of vocal brilliance and instrumental mastery into a fresh and unique dynamic. More and more, it seems like bands are recycling the same heavy-soft structure and dynamic–such that it can be hard to tell in any given genre where one band ends and another begins. However, FSU is home to a new, fresh take on deathcore which doesn’t just get it’s jollies with obscenely fast blasts, bass-dropped-to-Hell breakdowns and unintelligible vocals. Rather, FSU combines great synth playing with well-written instrumentation and vocals that fit in perfectly, such that each component of each track has a chance to shine at least once per song–giving everyone something to enjoy.
While it could be easy to write off The Holy Guile based on their song titles or as “another side-project gone full-time,” don’t. Sure, the breakdowns are heavy, the riffs are groovy, the synth is catchy and the vocals are great, what makes the band great is their ability to weave elements from all sorts of genres and styles together to create a unique sound–something which doesn’t happen too often anymore. In a nutshell, FSU really does Fuck Shit Up.
For Fans Of: Years Since The Storm, So This Is Suffering, Abiotic, Float Face Down
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism