August 05, 2014 - Melotov
The title of Holy Tongues' Weak People tells no lie: On the trio's first full-length, there are a host of characters all dealing very poorly with various issues. On opener "Pale Light," it's proclaimed, "There's no hope at the end of the days." If someone's not succumbing to desolation, they might be self-deprecating, like on "Bright Light": "I'm just crooked teeth / and bad tattoos.../I feel so awkward in my skin." Maybe they're philosophically waxing on the physical drawbacks of aging, or perhaps a deteriorating relationship, as "92" seems to: "All good features fade away with time." They might just be admitting to some early-onset anxiety, as someone does on "Filters": "Got a quarter-life crisis at 21."
Such fragile subjects at least deserve a powerful backing, and thankfully Holy Tongues provide it: eerie and often loud and heavy, prowling noise rock-influenced post-hardcore akin to Young Widows that casts just the right shade of dark and produces a deeply immersive pool of atmosphere to wallow in. All of Holy Tongues' members also played in craggy ’00s hardcore act Ruiner, who knew a thing or two about belittling one's self; in knowing so, it's hard to resist trying to tie at least loose threads to that band's final effort, 2009's Hell Is Empty, and its mid-tempo exorcisms. But bassist Stephen Smeal and guitarist Dustin Thornton scale back the agitated, grunting bark of their former frontman Rob Sullivan, opting to instead deliver a cleaner, deliberate talk-shout fans of Self Defense Family's darkly hypnotic Island Series could probably get behind (notably on "Follow").
With just a demo in hand prior to Weak People (two-thirds of which is re-recorded here anyway), Holy Tongues have offered one hell of a first batch of songs. Weak People will make you feel good, and not just because of the near-Povichian-level voyeurism to be had from it.