Artist: Hold Your Own
Album: Blind Bird
Imagine holding life in your own two hands. Cradling more than just another animal–more than just a collection of flesh and bones–but the ability to nurture and permit the proliferation of life. Not just the beating heart, but what that beating heart represents. Within your hands is the choice to create or destroy–quite honestly life or death. Likewise, Australian metalcore band Hold Your Own find themselves holding their frail, hobbling genre in their palms–in a position to either craft it and mold it into something beautiful, or dash its brains out on the pavement. Faced with such a decision, Hold Your Own respond with Blind Bird, a heartfelt, immersive EP which uses both straightforward beatdown and intrusive, inventive grooves to create a deep, uplifting listening experience which will not only bring the listener back to life, but restore their faith in metalcore as well.
First and foremost, Hold Your Own are drenched with emotion. Blind Bird is an EP which exudes emotion so heavily that it’s nearly palpable—the listener can practically smell the sweat on the vocalist’s brow and feel the tremors of his voice creating goose bumps along their arms and causing shivers to run down their spine. This tangible, engaging emotive aspect of Blind Bird is, as you might have guessed, due in large part to the vocals, and the lyrics they deliver. “Home Sweet Home” has a climactic middle portion to it’s captivating narrative which is veritable proof of this–as is “Naked,” a track which witnesses the vocalist truly shedding his skin for the sake of letting the listener inside and really feeling the driving force behind his lyrics. However, while the lyrics and the screams that accompany them provide a great amount of the EP’s emotional heft, there is still a great amount of passion to be felt in the release’s instrumentation. Indeed, Hold Your Own possess a remarkable ability to create stunningly deep, atmospheric musical environments which allow the heart-rending nature of the vocals to truly shine. Whether it’s the build-up to the barnburner that is “Home Sweet Home,” or “Tell My Story” and it’s immersive, fathomless brilliance, there is a marked soft spot to the instrumentation which allows the listener to burrow inside and make themselves at home within the Blind Bird’s embrace.
While Hold Your Own offer a warm, soothing embrace, it is also firm to the order of nearly back-breaking. Blind Bird has moments of undeniably heavy and bone-breaking brutality which bring the listener to their knees, forcing them to beg for mercy. One would be correct in guessing that where the vocals and lyrics were the primary motivation for Blind Bird’s unstoppable motivation, the instrumentation is the home for the EP’s unmovable heaviness. Jarring, pounding percussion beats as feverishly and rhythmically as an elephant’s heart. Meanwhile, winding bass works its way around the drums–both above them, and, at times below them, making itself a veritable part of the release’s framework. Above these elements, the guitars writhe, creating grimy, lacerating grooves with jarring effects and stunningly low-end-heavy chugs. The true beauty of these chugs is that, at times they are predictable and desirable, other times, they jump forth from nowhere, attacking the listener with an assault they didn’t know they needed—or even wanted. “Naked” makes stunning use of this: unpredictably grabbing the listener by the throat and shaking them mercilessly until they can hardly think—or breathe. These sneak attacks and the bipolar nature of the instrumentation give way to Hold Your Own’s greatest weapon—their eclectic but fluid dynamic.
Blind Bird excels at blending emotionally driving, melodic hardcore with hard-hitting, technically-infused beatdown and metalcore. With this release, Hold Your Own have created a unique blend of sounds which does a wonderful job at not just keeping the listener engaged, but keeping the heart of the genre beating. Moments like the entire “Home Sweet Home” or the introduction to “Naked” show the band oscillating brilliantly and smoothly between their two perfected extremes. “Home Sweet Home” opens with a subtle, heart-felt introductory sequence that launches unpredictably into a hard-hitting breakdown before continuing along with a stunning, soul-opening and heart-touching climax which will keep the listener on their knees. However, this time, the listener is not penitent with back-bending weight, but rather, sheer awe. The relationship between instrumentation and vocals allows this dynamic to function in a manner which isn’t forced, but rather fluid and subtle (when it needs to be). “Tell My Story,” along with the remainder of the album is truly archetypical of this, and places Hold Your Own on a level far above their heavy-soft, emotionally-driven peers. Where others feel contrived and bored, Hold Your Own are still full of heart, breathing nothing but fresh life into a stale and defunct genre.
These days, faith is a commodity: It’s hard to come by, and even harder to keep. If you’re one of the many who have lost faith in the disarray which is modern metalcore, prepare yourself for nothing but a wonderful reawakening with Blind Bird, the debut release from Hold Your Own. Blending hard-hitting heaviness and jarring instrumentation with ethereal, emotive beauty, there is nothing not to love about this release. It is a simply glorious execution of diverse, immersive music which is bright enough for even the blind to see.
For Fans Of: Counterparts, Hundredth, Gideon, Havenside
By: Connor Welsh