Wednesday, October 29, 2014

the melodic metal of HOLY SHIRE (Italy): Midgard (Bakerteam Records)

Holy Shire (Italy): Midgard (Bakerteam Records)
It appears that some U.S. reviewers listened to Holy Shire in a hurried way because the reviewer already had made up his mind that, oh, no, it’s “another power metal band from Italy,” and so the review was just a preconceived negative knee-jerk reaction that some people have, from decades of bands like Pantera, Megadeth and Slayer, and death metal bands and others, making sexist and homophobic insults towards metal is not thug and macho posturing). However, the critique against Holy Shire is rather ridiculous; that the music is too melodic or not “heavy enough” or “not fast enough” or something or other. For instance, we don’t see many people criticizing Slayer or Megadeth for having a vocalist that in his latter days cannot sing a single note to save his life (if he ever could!), and doesn’t even scream very well nowadays? So, it’s alright not to have talent and just bark like a tired and out-of-shape dog, but if you have talent and can actually sing, that is “not metal enough”? Is it that the inferior, mediocre people (and their “fans” with an inferiority complex or other types of insecurities) with no talent really resent the ones with ability and natural gifts? Is that some sort of desire for equality in art: I have no talent, but if you have talent, I will ridicule you in an effort to convince the stupid, resentful people amongst the masses that talent is bad?
For some reviewers in the U.S. (and other places, for sure, too), the animosity towards Holy Shire is due to something that is not being stated because it is politically incorrect in 2014 to come out and say it, but it is no big mystery what it is. There is something about Holy Shire that really bothers some metallers, and you can tell that the complaints really have to do with two main things, or more accurately, with two people in Holy Shire. Some reviewers just do not like to see Holy Shire and similar bands; they can’t stand the sight of Holy Shire, and they are not going to give the band a chance, and that’s that, because this music disturbs the lens through which those people see metal as some sort of personal identity affirmation therapy. Yes, you like Pantera and by liking Pantera you are a “real metal fan” (or, you are most definitely a “man” and “not gay” or whatever it is.).
First of all, Holy Shire is, in fact, a metal band, not a pop or a rock band. Yes, the band is melodic metal, with two vocalists—one voice is operatic and the other one is midrange-upper range, with some grit in places. This last-mentioned voice is simply typical, traditional, melodic metal singing that forms the fundamental voice of Holy Shire, while the operatic voice weaves in and out, adds various textures, sometimes upfront, sometimes in the background, sometimes in a more lateral way, sometimes more atmospheric.
Second, Holy Shire is not a ballad band. Uptempo, rocking songs form a substantial portion of the band’s sound, while some slower moments are utilized in a very measured way. Third, the listener that gives the album the deserved attention will discover quickly that Holy Shire keeps up the uptempo energy throughout the album, which is why it is patently false to claim that Holy Shire is some sort of mellow, mellow, slow band.
Fourth, the heart of the band’s sound is Euro power metal and melodic songs. It is catchy, rather happy melodic, with a tendency towards the symphonic; and Holy Shire is shameless, shamelessly good because they hit all the required moods and moments so well, which just shows that this enterprise aims to please. This is the band’s debut full-length, but they have been around since about 2010, according to Metal Archives. Holy Shire supporters in Italy most likely have heard some of the songs in their earlier versions, but here the band presents them in their most perfected form.
If you really enjoy melodic metal, give Holy Shire a few listens. The album is impressive and creative, and it is a fun listen. Depending on the commercial success of the band, and the kind of pressures they will experience, it will be interesting to see how they manage to maintain their style and musical balance such as on this album. A case in point is the first video made for the album. The video is for one of the most mellow, if not the most mellow song, “Winter Is Coming,” which is not the most representative of the album, suggesting that they may already be under the pressure to produce hits, and possibly more ballads in the future. It would be unfortunate if the band abandons the metal sound in favor of greener pastures. We’ll have to wait and see if they turn into something else entirely with the passage of time. www.facebook.com/HOLYSHiRE www.reverbnation.com/holyshire
HOLY SHIRE - 'Winter Is Coming' official video
Greensleeves HOLY SHiRE

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