Three years separate the release of Holy Despair from the predecessor album Omens and during this time A Hill to Die Upon could have changed their sound, evolved like so many bands, but Holy Despair remains true to their original sound and characteristics that distinguishes them in the metal scene.
Holy Despair brings us ten tracks that are sure to please fans of bands like Behemoth, Emperor, 1349 and others in the genre. Brothers Adam and Michael Cook once again have made a perfect mix of aggressive death metal combined with technical aspects typically found in black metal and have done so in such a way that neither style dominates.
Those familiar with the sound of AHTDU from previous albums will find a lot to enjoy in this release as well as it is rife with sonority, timbre, philosophical lyrics, and some acoustic tracks to provide balance and offset the intensity of the metal. At the same time, despite some general similarities to their previous albums, AHTDU have added some unique touches to this album, especially in the tracks “A Jester Arrayed in Burning Gold” and “Let the Ravens Have my Eyes” where they have enlisted Thor Georg Buer (Grave Declaration) to add elements of symphonic black metal.
Overall the songs on the album fit together very well and all are strong, which makes choosing highlights an inglorious task. After many listens, the songs “O Death”, with the female vocals and harp provided by Timbre, “Satan Speaks”, with lyrics from works of CS Lewis, and “Unyielding Anguish” are the songs that stand out as the top tracks on the album. Whether or not Holy Despair is better than the previously released Infinite Titanic Immortal or Omens is a tough question but no matter what your opinion is in the end, Holy Despair makes a great addition to the AHTDU catalog.
1. Cloven Hoof Hava Nagila
2. A Jester Arrayed in Burning Gold
3. Unyielding Anguish
4. Let the Ravens Have My Eyes
8. Rime (Jerub-Ba’al)
9. O Death
10. Satan Speaks
Adam Cook– Lead, rhythm, & bass guitars, despairing voices
Michael Cook– Drums, anguished voices
Nolan Osmond – Lead guitars
Additional screaming on “Nekyia” by The Scandinavian Black Metal Alliance
Additional singing on “A Jester Arrayed in Burning Gold” by Beckie Frey
Harp and additional singing on “O Death” by Timbre
Record label: Bombworks Records, April 2014
Video below “Holy Despair” album teaser:
Lyric video for ‘Satan Speaks’
Video below ‘Nekyia’