Holy Monitor – Southern Lights


Artist: Holy Monitor

Album: Southern Lights

Label: Blackspin Records

Release Date: 26/02/2021

Country: Greece

Let’s take a look at Holy Monitor and their third album Southern Lights, set to be released tomorrow on Blackspin Records.

The band hail from Athens, Greece and play a blend of psychedelic and space rock with krautrock influences. The quintet is made up of George Nikas (vocals and guitars), Stefanos Mitsis (guitars), Vangelis Mitsis (keys), Alex Bolpasis (bass) and Dimitris Doumouliakas (drums). The release follows their 2020 EP This Desert Land. S was recorded and mixed by Alex Bolpasis at Suono Studio. Mastering was done by Nick Townsend at Townsend Mastering and artwork is courtesy of Bewild Brother.

The band’s overall sound and style leans primarily into the realm of psychedelic rock, featuring what feel like meandering, explorative jam sessions. This is a feeling that few other styles of music (other than of course jazz and a few others) possess and something that makes psychedelic music so captivating and entrancing. It’s almost as though the music is free flowing, non-scripted and pure. This of course isn’t the case as it is immediately clear that this band has put plenty of thought into this album and the song writing is impressive, but that pure unstructured essence is still there. The space rock essence is present too with everything having a somewhat outer-worldly atmospheric vibe to it. The unconventional song structures and hypnotic rhythms of krautrock are also definitely present in the overall mix on the album.

The overall tone of the release is extremely relaxing and soothing, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t engaging (two terms that people sometimes seem to consider incompatible). While the smooth and ever-flowing nature of the music does somewhat entrance you, the ever changing soundscape and the proficiency of the instrumental work on the release ensures that you are never bored at any point. The vocals are perfectly suited to the music and also have a sort of soothing, psychedelic nature to them as well, working to complete the overall aesthetic of the album.

The fact that we have two guitarists who work in perfect unison on this release helps to give it a fuller overall sound and allows for overlapping lead and rhythm guitar work. Aside from the impressive and ever flowing guitar work on the album though, the other key element that gives it a distinctive and captivating sound is the key work. True to 60s psychedelic rock style the use of electric organ tones really adds a whole new layer to the music’s overall sound. It’s a tone that I honestly love and wish that more modern music incorporated. The bass works to further expand this depth of sound adding a rich tone to the album and at times shining through the mix to really shine. Track 5 The Sky is Falling Down truly allowing both the keys and bass to shine and is easily one of my favorites on the album. I would be remiss if I also didn’t allot some praise to the drum work on the album which presents us with equally as entrancing rhythmic patterns to round out the full sound of the release.

Overall, this is a solid psych rock release and one that I’m glad was brought to my attention. This was my first introduction to Holy Monitor, but I can safely say that they’ve found a new fan here. I look forward to hearing more from them in the future, but for now I believe that this will easily tide me over until such a time.

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