Modern Cults –  Holygram (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

As the industrial white noise that kicks the album off descends into a searing, pounding explosion of shard-like guitars and cavernous atmospheres, oddly enough I have never felt so at home, so quickly. But then I grew up in the eighties. I grew up with clinical beats of The Sisters of Mercy, the beautifully washed-out and elegantly wasted soundscapes of My Bloody Valentine, the white hot riffs of The Jesus and Mary Chain, the demonic oppression of The Fields of the Nephilim and everything in between. And they are all, in some small fashion, pulsing away at the heart of Modern Cults.

But if the building blocks might be recognisable, as always, it is what you fashion with them that is the defining factor and the sonic architecture, the dreaming musical spires, the brickwork of contrasting ethereality and darkness found here is as unique as it is comforting.  A Faction, the second single off this their second album, drives with a relentless almost krautrock precision but then builds folds of shimmering acoustics and chiming riffs into a sound that wanders between delicacy and devastation. 

And that really is the secret to their sound. Rather than create weight by turning up the volume and power-chording their way through, instead Holygram build layer upon layer of gossamer thin textures, laying one intricate soundscape upon another until they have a sound which is both dense but deftly constructed. And as the colours shift and the light pours through so they find their unique musical personality. Still There is dark psychedelia to a driving beat, Hideaway sits at the cross-over point of goth and New Romantic and Signals is a dystopian, disco-dirge.

Holygram make music for those who were there in the early days of post-punk and for the modern acolyte also. They make music for the goth and the rocker, the dark wavers and the underground and alternative scenes. They may occasionally glance back but this is music made with an eye on new horizons. Goth isn’t dead, it just needed a make-over. 

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