Some albums just leave you speechless, and Holy Gold’s debut EP, Feral Children, will do exactly that. This powerful collective (with history, weight and pedigree behind all the band’s members) has shattered all expectations and created a pungent new world in heavy music. The biggest complaint here is that there are only six songs.
Appropriately titled, Feral Children explores the wild nature of a generation through unkempt distortion, raw emotion, and thoroughly-composed song structure. Vocalist Keller Harbin (ex-The Chariot, ex-The Glass Ocean) scratches through the walls of sound the band unleashes behind him. His voice also has the power to sustain the softer moments, perfectly lacing the music and his lyricism together. Guitarists Scottie Henry (founding guitarist for Norma Jean) and Brandon Henderson (formerly of The Chariot) play with immaculate chemistry and authority, while bassist Justin Graham and drummer Heath Ladnier draw from their previous work together in The Glass Ocean to give the album a resilient backbone.
Kicking off the album with “Bat Bird,” Harbin invites the audience to the party with explosive screams and layers of vocal octaves and harmonies. The imperfections in his delivery, both here and throughout the album, give a character to his voice that will distinctly characterize Holy Gold. He carves into social issues with songs like “Gravity” that ask, “Am I to walk the line or to snort it down?” The constant waves of tension and release give the EP structure among its chaos, an art that Holy Gold has already polished. Each song meanders through inner conflict, straying off the beaten path and somehow finding its way home.
As the album progresses, the band’s hardcore roots begin ripping at the seams, beginning with “IV Witches” and accelerating through “Pyramids.” The metaphorical volume is constantly being turned up, putting the listener in a whirlwind by the end of the last song. The final opus, “Crooked Path, Crooked Smile,” showcases the breadth of the band’s musical skill, from the low, eerie guitars to the tasteful chord substitutions to the half-time ending. Every second is a calculated, all-encompassing experience.
Between the members’ extensive backgrounds in heavy music, it would be easy to assume a similar sound would come from Holy Gold. However, fans will be pleasantly surprised by the band’s instinctual sonic identity that diverges from their past work. Combined with the band’s knack for innovation, the six-song set will leave you in awe of the sheer volume of musical talent. As a whole, Feral Children lures the audience into a terrifying yet enticing sort of madness. There’s poetry in the lyrics, passion in the riffs and a hint of southern rock with a spooky twist. If this EP is any hint of what fans can expect in a full-length album, Holy Gold certainly has an unstoppable future ahead of them.