"Face This Burn" (Massacre Records; 2021)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Face This Burn" brings founding members Mike Tirelli and James Harris together again for an album dedicated to the band's former bassist (and their close friend) Randy Coven, who passed away in 2014. It's been eighteen years since Holy Mother's last studio release, but you'd never know it from "Face This Burn."

What I like best about "Face The Burn" is its originality. When I write a review, I like to include the names of an artist or two who sound is similar to the artist I'm reviewing, as I did on my review of "Agoraphobia" below. It's difficult for me to do that with this album. There are moments here and there that bring me flashes of Alice in Chains, or Ronnie James Dio, as well as others. But the overall tone and sound on "Face This Burn" are unique to Holy Mother. It's an album with a unique sound all of its own.

It's heavy, with crushing guitars and pounding rhythms, and Mike Tirelli's vocals are as strong as ever.  I also am very impressed that this album sounds as modern as I thought "Agoraphobia" sounded back in 2003. "Modern" sounded different in 2003 than it does in 2021, but Holy Mother manage to keep their sound fresh and contemporary.

My favorite tracks are probably the first and title track, "Face This Burn," with its intense grind, the edgy "Mesmerized by Hate" and the powerful, roaring "The River." And the album closes with a riveting cover of The Carpenters' "Superstar." As regular readers may know, I'm a huge fan of covers tunes, especially those in which the covering band makes the song their own without destroying it. Holy Mother succeed here beautifully, paying tribute to the classic song with respect and adding their hard rock edge as well.

For more information, check out http://www.holy-mother.net

"Agoraphobia" (SPV / Steamhammer Records; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Agoraphobia," the new album by Holy Mother (a band made up of members from Virgin Steele, Messiah's Kiss and Yngwie Malmsteen's band), is a rather brilliant combination of the hard and loud Ronnie James Dio sound with a somewhat quicker tempo and a vocalist who brings to mind the best work of David Coverdale and Skid Row's Sebastian Bach and/or Johnny Sollinger.

Holy Mother is all about heavy metal guitars, soaring lead vocals and rhythms that demand furious headbanging. They're not speed metal, but their tempo is fast and furious throughout. Imagine Dio's faster-paced songs and you get a good idea of where Holy Mother is coming from.

Despite the comparisons above, however, don't think that Holy Mother are a retro metal band. That's far from the case. The songwriting and production on Holy Mother is sharp and very contemporary. Track 5, "Hungry for Exxstacy" is a perfect example here, skipping along on an edgy verse and then folding beautifully into a razor sharp chorus. Another highlight is the very next song, "Society, Anxiety," which boasts an irresistible Iron Maiden-ish throb.

Also included is a strong and respectful cover of Black Sabbath's classic "Never Say Die."

Holy Mother: Mike Tirelli - vocals, guitars; Randy Coven - bass; Frank Gilchriest - drums. Also appearing on "Agoraphobia" are John Macaluso - drums; Herman Frank - guitars.

For more information, check out http://www.holy-mother.net

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2021 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.