A few weeks ago, I had the honour of reviewing the debut album by the French band Starmonger, and sometimes bands arrive like busses, you wait for ages, and then two come at once. Well now it’s the turn of fellow countrymen Appalooza to step up. The Holy Of Holies is the follow up to two thousand and eighteen’s self-titled debut Appalooza, and it’s out for imminent release on the 5th February by Ripple Music , so that my friends, is the nine track, hard rocking beast of an album, that’s getting reviewed today.
Appalooza themselves, are a three-piece band, located in Brittany, France, and are formed of Sylvain, who assumes vocal duties and guitar, Adrien, who plays bass, and Vincent on the drums. Fun fact, Sylvain is also the artist of the incredible artwork that graces the cover for the album, so he really is a man of many talents.
The Holy Of Holies picks up where debut Appalooza left off, it has the same vibe, the same swagger, and the same kick ass tunes going on. As album opener Storm kicks in, you would be forgiven for not placing Appalooza as being French, after all, the soundscape has a real American Indian feel to it. There are chants which sound all together more tribal and primitive, which pull you in to a heavier scene as it plays on. In places it returns to something far more spiritual, but this shift is again broken by heavier sections.
When it’s at its most tribal, it reminds me of the whole Sepultura vibe in the nineties, which for me as a long time Sepultura fan, is no bad thing, and here it seems to be complete with an added Derrick Green vocal, just for good measure. As it dies off, the stage is set for the rest of the album, and even if the Sepultura comparison is only brief, it leaves me ready for what hopefully will be a very memorable experience indeed.
The Holy Of Holies picks up where debut Appalooza left off, it has the same vibe, the same swagger, and the same kick ass tunes going on…
Through the next two tracks, the guitar led intro’s break into a barrage of chugging riffs and pounding drums, and by track four, Nazareth, there seems to be a pattern forming structure wise, on how Appalooza like to play things. As the aforementioned Nazareth opens, there’s a nice running feel, before forging out to a much more angst driven number musically. As it ducks and dives, I spot twinges of Alice In Chains, and even more so of Warrior Soul. It’s a welcome addition, that’s for sure, and it breaks up the album nicely.
One particular highlight for me is Distress, this really up’s the pace, and showcases exactly what Appalooza are capable of. Right from the opening bars, this track shifts things up a gear, it’s definitely more energetic, and with its rumbling bass and widdly guitars, it really does have everything. It also has a more commercial appeal too, and I can imagine this doing very well if it came out as a single. It strikes as being a heavier Feeder in its nature, but it’s a very catchy tune.
There’s a swift return to that signature Appalooza sound on the last two tracks, but on album closer, Canis Majoris, things start in a more stripped back way, only to be replaced in the second third by a far heavier, somewhat doomy passage. As this dies off, what’s left is a solo guitar playing, haunting as it ebbs away into nothingness.
The more I’ve listened to this album, the more it’s grown on me. On first pass I wasn’t so sure, and put it to the side for a couple of days before revisiting it, and I’m so glad I did. Giving it the time to listen again properly, I got to experience all the layers that I hadn’t noticed the first time round, and I was rewarded in the best way possible. It’s a sturdy follow up to the debut, and does everything it needs to, while at the same time improving on its older sibling.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish