Holy Mother – Face This Burn Review

In order to ring in the new year (it’s still January, we can talk about that, right?), I spent a portion of my day seeing Kiss perform live in Dubai. This was a good idea for two reasons: one, concerts are fun, even if they are live-streamed and you can’t stop noticing the visual lag no matter how hard you try, and two, the vast time difference between myself and the concert meant I could contentedly pretend that I’d properly celebrated the new year without making any changes whatsoever to my evening routine. As an unintended side effect, however, I’ve also found myself in mood for more traditional metal lately, which has coincided nicely with the release of Holy Mother’s seventh full-length, Face This Burn. I’m unfamiliar with this American group, despite their twenty-five years of activity, but my keywords today are loud, fun, and heavy, and in that, we are a match.

While I’m the last person who should be invoking a Kiss comparison, it’s definitely worthwhile to start by saying that Holy Mother bring to the table a similarly big sound — thunderous, catchy, fun, heavy rock. The riffs are mighty, the singing is heated, and occasionally Face This Burn slides into the downright catchy (not that it’s not disco or anything). At the forefront of these escapades are Mike Tirelli and Greg Giordano, on vocals and guitars respectively. Take a listen to the first twenty seconds of “No Death Reborn” for a great example, or the main riff in “Mesmerized by Hate” before listening to Tirelli tear the world asunder as he sings, screams in tune, and even shrieks through the album’s title track. All the while, drumming and bass by Jim Harris and Ruzzel Pzutto thunder away, keeping you grounded, pummeled, and entertained throughout.

Of course, this is sounding like pretty standard traditional heavy fare so far, but Holy Mother and Face This Burn aren’t quite so predictable. Elements of pop and electronica are occasionally injected into the music, popping up at unexpected moments. Remember those big riffs I was going on about in “No Death Reborn?” The last thing I expected was for the song to end with a cheesy choir pulled straight from your electronica-laden dreams, auto-tune and the works. “Wake Up America” opens with Tirelli dramatically calling out said country’s name before the singers from Glee shout “WAKE UP!” like the biggest game of their teenage lives is about to begin.1 Pop this is not, but Holy Mother is perfectly content with dabbling a little, secure on their solid heavy metal canvas.

Does it work? Absolutely it does. It isn’t perfect by any stretch, but Face This Burn is a fun, multi-faceted album with a lot going for it. Still, it’s hard to avoid looking at Face This Burn without thinking it’s experiencing some kind of identity crisis. You’ve got the tracks like “Love is Dead” with its big riffs and singalong chorus, “The River” with its speedy, energetic rampage, and then “Wake Up America,” which sounds at times vaguely like ABBA plus riffs, and the aforementioned “No Death Reborn,” which takes a slow, doom-y approach before injecting elements of pop, electronica, and heavy rock into its chorus. Meanwhile, “Prince of the Garden” is a mid-paced number with dramatic effects, long drawls, and a heavy focus on vocal melodies, with some unexpectedly annoying repetitions trailing off the song’s chorus. And yet, despite this, I simply can’t deny that Holy Mother have created an energetic and enjoyable record here.

So I wound up a little bit outside of my wheelhouse with this one — not where I expected to end up, and certainly not unhappy with the result. Face This Burn is just plain fun. It’s a light record, easy to digest, and with enough surprises and little twists to keep you on your toes for a tame forty-one-minute runtime. If the bizarre name drops sprinkled throughout this monstrosity of a review have you confused or offended, let the focus be this: Holy Mother have crafted a record that is heavy, speedy, and fun — I’m good with that for sure.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Massacre Records
Website: facebook.com/holymotherband
Releases Worldwide: January 22nd, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. I want to make it abundantly clear that, to the best of my knowledge, none of the singers from Glee appear on this album.
« »