The six piece Holy Beach from Atlanta, Georgia is a side project of sorts for shoegaze band Sleep Therapy’s vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter John Lally, but the spectacular achievement he brings off with a band of like-minded musician friends may convince him to pursue this as something more than an one off. Let’s hope so. This is an energizing release for me and its big screen guitar sound, the product of multiple players, couples with a powerhouse rhythm section that holds everything together. Mike Gibbs, Jon Hilton, and Jason Petty generate a high degree of musical heat but they flex their muscle as well in a gripping way. Kevin Faivre’s bass playing pops out of the mix with rib-rattling resonance and makes for a powerful team with drummer Jordan Hershaft.
I can’t say enough about Hershaft and Faivre’s performances throughout the release. Their effect on the music is evident from the first song “Ships Off the Coast” onward thanks to their tastefulness and steady hands. That first cut will stick in my memory for two other reasons – the vocals and the central riff. Lally’s singing will remind zero listeners of his talents in the shoegaze genre and, instead, offers his own take on metal singing. He has genuine pipes rather than revealing himself to be nothing but a shouter or screamer; a lot of the song has him flat out singing in a full throated style. The riff is one of the strongest on the collection and the array of guitars fueling the band’s sound wash over the listeners.
“It’s the Fear” is a solid track from beginning to end and the guitars are always teetering on the edge of a feedback sea. It’s a dissonant tune and one of the simpler tunes heard on All That Matters Is This Matter, but will likely never bore you or overstay its welcome. Double tracked vocals are a feature heard throughout the album and they are used well with this track. “Confident Prick” will be a favorite of many. It overflows with both musical and vocal attitude, but it doesn’t carry the day alone. The inventive arrangement pops from the first and the way Holy Beach stops and restarts the track at various points makes this track stand heads above many of the other album cuts.
“International Graves” is a difficult number to sit through, but not because it is poor or unsatisfying. The album’s second to last song has a downtrodden spirit, immersed in despair, and the band wreaths listeners in those heavy atmospherics from the first. The vocals come in late during this song when compared to the other tracks, but deepen the gloomy mood. The guitar army stamped on the band’s musical identity reaches another peak with “International Graves”.
It matches up well with the last number “Skull Faced on a Horse”. Holy Beach is wise to bring the album to an end with the energy crackling throughout this tune and Lally brings the same pacing to his vocal. It’s a closer with flair and inspiration to burn. The riff is my favorite on the release as well and, despite the five and half minute length, will never test your patience. The merits of All That Matters Is This Matter are numerous and well worth searching out.