Built around Holy Esque's already-established dichotomy of darkness versus light, 'At Hope's Ravine' is a thunderous record of almost-monolithic ambitions, its grandeur matched only by the scope of the concepts it wrestles with. Reflecting the industry of the band's native Glasgow, as well as the formidable Lanarkshire countryside, the interest in dichotomy runs deeper than thematics; bleeding in to both the instrumentation and the composition imposing walls of noise are juxtaposed effortlessly against huge swathes of open space.
For an album that deals with such heavy concepts, 'At Hope's Ravine' retains an impressive amount of buoyancy and optimism. The shimmering and soaring 'Rose' for instance, or penultimate 'St' feel like snatched moments of the hope referenced in the album's title. These sections of rich emotion spill over in to the record's darker facets, allowing for the more desolate tracks to feel less stark than they otherwise might.
Though a handful of tracks are available elsewhere, there's enough new material to keep even the biggest of fans happy. 'Dolls House' for instance is subdued and moody, progressing steadily forward before collapsing in to anthemic dissonance. It also marks the centre point of a trio tracks that chronicle “a tragic tale of prostitution”, starting with 2012's 'Ladybird Love' and culminating with 7” single 'Oslo'.
Offering what is perhaps the strongest depiction of the record's dark vs light narrative, previous single 'Tear' is fraught with an almost-tangible level of emotion, ever mounting towards its conclusion but it's the eponymous title track that acts as record's centrepiece however, ever intensifying as it progresses towards an explosive and hugely cathartic close.
'At Hope's Ravine' was never going to be an album of half-measures. From their debut EP it was clear Holy Esque were a band without compromise, something which has never been more clear than here. Ambitious, anthemic and at times, gut wrenchingly emotional, 'At Hope’s Ravine' is a staggering piece of work.
Words: Dave Beech
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