• Jack Wells

Music Review - Holy by In Strict Confidence

Fans of darker music can find their religion in Holy.

So it's been a while since I've made any updates to the site. There's a myriad of reasons, but as I'm starting to type them out, they all sound like "blah blah blah" and "excuses excuses excuses". So, since things are a little slow right now, I figured I'd mine the depths of my (very!) old Amazon reviews, and maybe get some bands on some radars! That said, let's get to the reviews!

Holy is the latest offering by ISC, and was certainly worth the wait. Continuing where Mistrust The Angels left off, Holy takes the darkwave/industrial genre to new heights, while still remaining faithful to their roots. Fans of industrial, synthpop, darkwave, ethereal, and gothic music can all find their religion in Holy, and is a must have for any ISC fan. Each track is very well executed, with only the final track leaving a bit to be desired.

Eye Of Heaven - Begins the album nicely. A mid-tempo track that starts slow, drawing the listener in, then builds to a catchy quicker beat. Sampled guitars help feed the rhythm, while orchestral synthesizers build to the climax. Classic ISC vocals throughout. Interesting lyrics help propel this good choice of an album opener.

Seven Lives - One of my favorites on the album, and certainly a departure from anything ISC has done before. More anthemic, more pop structured, as much "mainstream" as industrial. It moves along at a very moderate pace, neither slow nor fast. Still retains the well executed synthesizers and drum arrangements, and the vocals are clearer than usual, showing more depth and feeling. All this plus great lyrics too! Could easily be the second single from Holy.

Babylon - The first single taken from the album, and surprisingly enough, one of my least favorite tracks. The only song sung in German. Lacks the power and intensity of the other tracks. Mid-tempo, like the first two songs. Snippets of piano float in the background, and the bassline is very fat and rhythmic. A very solid though somewhat uninspired track.

Closing Eyes - More upbeat than the previous tracks, with the traditional four-on-the-floor beat and faster synth lines. Nadine Stelzer and Dennis Ostermann share vocal duties on this track, each contributing alternating lines, and then switching to a duet on the chorus. I have always liked Nadine's voice, and the track works well with both of them on vocals. Some synthpop elements make an appearance here, with synth strings that could fit well on a VNV Nation song.

Heal Me - Slower than Closing Eyes, following the same steady rhythm of the first three tracks. Orchestral synths take center stage here, lending the track an epic feel. Not a song to pull you on to the dance floor, but still a good track, and it fits the tone of the album perfectly. The shortest track on the album, and only slightly repetitious, but not in a bad way.

Emergency - This is where the album switches gears. The synthesizers are more ambient this time around, but still very much ISC material. The first of two tracks on this album with Antje Schulz, formerly of the German ethereal act Chandeen, on vocals. Though the tone is darker than her usual work, her voice fits this style of music very well. I have always loved her voice, and it has certainly found a home here. Catchy, only slightly poppy, with a stuttering beat and rhythm. A new and satisfying direction for ISC.

Another Night - The second of the heavy songs on Holy. Guitars make a return, as well as the heavier driving drums and synths. More like the ISC of Mistrust and Love Kills!. A return to form for Dennis' vocals, which until now have been less distorted and angry. This track is very catchy, and keeps your feet or fingers tapping in time. The heaviest track on this album, certainly guaranteed to please longstanding ISC fans. Another contender for the next single.

No Love Will Heal - Another mid-tempo track, a little faster than the others, with a driving beat and syncopated synths that march steadily on. Some quasi-techno hooks come into play, pairing up nicely with the stuttering drum track. Another song that would have felt right at home on Mistrust The Angels. Classic ISC, with all the trimmings.

The Darkest Corridors - Easily my favorite track on the album. Starts out with darkwave ambience, and then recurring synths that hook you. Then the drum kicks in, giving way to a driving track that commands attention. Dennis sings the verses, while Nadine returns to deliver the chorus as only she can. The last of the heavier tracks on Holy, and another great example of how male and female vocals, if done right, can really benefit a song. Soft chants emerge halfway through, before the song kicks back into high gear. A great song to be driving fast to. My choice for the second single from this album.

Sleepless - The second track on the album featuring Antje on vocals. Very slow track, with deep resonating bass and minimal synths. Very ambient track, slipping into the Massive Attack vein. If you liked Antje on the Chandeen album Spacerider, you'll like her here. Longstanding ISC fans may not like this song, but if you liked the b-side Blue Light from the Babylon single, then you should like this too. It could have been a good track to close out the CD, but...

Alpha Centauri - Very long instrumental track. Minimalistic approach to the synths and strings. This track is great on headphones in a dark room or as mood music with someone special, but not much use in everyday listening. Fits the tone of the album fine, but just doesn't inspire or stand out. Good companion song to the bonus track Alpha Omega on the limited edition of Holy, if you were lucky enough to find that.

All in all, a very recommended album, especially to those who like all genres of dark music. Excellent production values, great artwork and booklet, intriguing lyrics, and a true perfectionists attention to detail. Has yet to leave my CD player.

5 out of 5 unholy stars!

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