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Appalooza - The Holy of Holies Award winner

Appalooza
The Holy of Holies
by Emily Schneider at 15 March 2021, 3:01 PM

APPALOOZA hails from Brittany, France. The Stoner Rock quartet initially formed as trio in 2012, but their debut wasn't released until 2018. 3 years later, their sophomore album “The Holy of the Holies” enters the stratosphere of Stoner Rock, the Desert Rock vein being the highlight for it.

The album opens with the bombastic “Storm”. There's such an intense buildup throughout this song, it's easy to imagine the bracing winds and torrential rain, tearing everything from its foundations. I really dig the whirling, almost tribal like drum blended into the regular drumkit sound. Then the intense ebb and flow of the melody really adds to the end of the world feeling of the track. “Snake Charmer” has a classic Stoner Doom feel with distorted riffs and gritty vocals. The slow down toward the end that brought in some Middle Eastern vibes was a cool touch. "Reincarnation” has a Grunge Rock feel at points. This point is when humans return to Earth as half-dead beings in the middle of nowhere and the melodies really create that.

Nazareth” brings back in the Arabian feel with the guitar melodies. This creates a desert setting including the sandstorm of percussion and riffs that leads the listener into the next track. “Conquest” takes on a Desert Rock feel a-la KYUSS. There's a illusive quality to this song, like chasing a mirage in the heat of the desert, in search for an oasis. In some ways, the group this album is about IS searching for oasis, at least for some sort of salvation from their empty life state they're trapped in. Little does humanity know what's to come when they find the holy of holies on the next track, “Azazael.  Essentially, this entity is a demon that winds up possessing mankind with this meeting. There's an ominous feeling from the low rolling percussion with frantic cymbals, the riffs elude to the danger of this powerful being, plus the almost haunting vocal style truly paints this immortal demon in vivid color. “Distress” is the danger of this meeting realized in full. The melody is super catchy, it's a groovy Stoner Doom feel with some wild low basslines to add to the mix. The ending was truly hellish as they realize they've been cursed. “Thousand Years After” and “Canis Majoris” are both super melancholy tracks. The closing track is pretty angsty, understandably given the sad state of humanity by that point. There is much retrospection in the verses, the downtempo melody seeps with regret and sorrow. The chorus is full of raw desperation that bleeds into the passionate guitar solo.

All and all, “The Holy of the Holies” is quite a trip for the senses. It's a gritty soundscape that compels and mesmerizes with the use of distortion, melody, and some creative genre-bending. The Desert Rock feel is always enjoyable for me, but the touches of Grunge Rock and the Middle Eastern melodies made it even more intriguing to hear. Not to mention, reading the concept/backstory for this album on the band's BandCamp added even more dimension to it. I'm a sucker for a dark story of mankind cursing themselves and this was certainly a new spin on the subject. APPALOOZA manages to bring their story to life with their fuzzy distorted sounds and commanding vocals. It's honestly a great formula to a great piece of Stoner Rock.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Storm
2. Snake Charmer
3. Reincarnation
4. Nazareth
5. Conquest
6. Azazael
7. Distress
8. Thousand Years After
9. Canis Majoris
Lineup:
Sylvain - Vocals & Guitar
Vincent - Drums
Tony - Bass
The Horse - Arrangements/Backing Vocals/Percussions/Banjo/Vibraslap
Record Label: Ripple Music
     


Rating

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Edited 17 September 2021
 

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