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HolyRoller - Swimming Witches Award winner

Swimming Witches
by David Hough at 21 August 2022, 12:54 PM

HOLYROLLER is a North Carolina-based stoner/doom band. Two of their stated influences are ELDER and MASTODON. I can detect some BARONESS harmonies and CLUTCH songwriting on their new album, “Swimming Witches.” Add some catchy,  bluesy riffs, and you know where they’re coming from.

The first track, “Atheist Prayer,” features an excellent guitar solo by Greg Burgess from ALLEGAEON. This song also has an infectious chorus that has been playing in my head since I first listened to the album. There’s so much earworm potential on “Swimming Witches” that each track has been stuck in my head at least once or twice this week.

Stumbling Towards Death” is an excellent follow-up to “Atheist Prayer.” Peter Wichers of SOILWORK has an absolute shredder of a solo. The production by Jamie King from BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME stands out as each instrument and vocalist sounds crystal clear, and they all work well together. There’s a bit of a twang to this track as well. You can tell they are from the south during certain parts. Once again, the riffs and chorus are destined to get stuck in your head.

Earthdweller” also has a guest spot. This time it is filled by Hiran Deraniyagala, guitarist for BATTLECROSS. This track features screaming backing vocals juxtaposed with Adam Cody’s clean singing. That pairing works well, given the emotional nature of the song. The bass riffing comes through nicely as well. It’s not as catchy as the first two tracks, but it still has the power to hook you.

The Deuce” is one of the more psychedelic songs on “Swimming Witches.” The spaced-out intro is followed by more infectious riffing. The pre-chorus is a “call-and-response” part that most reminds me of CLUTCH. Shortly thereafter, the tune takes on a twangy character, again showing the band’s roots. They finish with another psychedelic passage, and you have a great track on your hands.

With Time” starts off with some low, bouncy guitar and drum interplay. Cody starts talk-singing, a decision that I’m not so sure I like. The vocals during the chorus take on a more tender tone at first that slowly builds in intensity. I noticed some low-key MASTODON influence as well. There isn’t a bad song on this album.

At times, “Swimming Witches” can sound a bit formulaic, but the fun train never stops. This album has some killer riffs, amazing guest spots, and enough catchy elements that will leave you singing along for weeks to come. At first, I didn’t think HOLYROLLER was heavy enough to be considered metal, but then I got over myself and started having a great time.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Atheist Prayer
2. Stumbling Towards Death
3. Earthdweller
4. Last Embrace
5. The Deuce
6. With Time
7. Bloodhound
8. Swimming Witches
Jason Kincaid - Bass, Vocals (backing)
Jay Ovittore - Drums
Jim Mayberry - Guitars (lead), Vocals (backing)
Adam Cody - Guitars, Vocals
Record Label: Black Doomba Records


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