Burial Waves - Holy Ground

27 Nov 2021 - Ben

Post-Hardcore, Post-Punk, Post-Rock | Release date: 12 Nov 2021

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These guys have known one another, played on the same stages, and have admired each other’s music for years. Now’s the time for the highly anticipated debut EP from Washington DC’s own post-hardcore/rock/math supergroup.

The DC music scene is like that of many other cities – bands form and bands break up; musicians arrive daily to build their dream and musicians depart to chase their dream elsewhere. DC, however, has a great tradition of bands and musicians intermingling and forming exciting projects – look at The Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Fugazi, Rites of Spring and Bad Brains. What is it about the US capital that inspires such a collaborative and creative musical ecosystem?

Borne from members of The EFFECTS, Caverns, Pianos Become The Teeth and Black Clouds, these guys have known each other for years on the DC music scene – and you can almost tell from the apparent ease with which they intertwine their ideas and the unity with which they deliver their punches.

Kicking off the EP is “Light Heads” - a song that I played the hell out of on pre-release. Opening with twinkling drone, they deliver the first punch of the album straight to the solar plexus. Transitioning between what seems like a lost love and stark self-reflection (“In a mirrored room, all the angles looking back at you”), the band pull out some sonic and dynamic tricks to keep the song moving, interesting and three dimensional.

“At Sea” feels altogether more menacing – delivering sandblasted depth charges beneath twirling, swirling guitars and woozy vocals opining that “No-one knows me, I’m an island.” It’s a majestic three-minute study in loneliness-as-a-wall-of-sound.

“The Romantic” is an urgent, hurrying affair that moves between chanting punk vocals and almost nursery rhyme cadence, before pausing, putting on its big boots and stomping the shade from the room.

Anyone casting their mind back to January 2020 – before all this waves hands in the air generally was happening – might remember Burial Waves releasing a video of a live performance of “Cinema Shame”, the first proper output by the band. The live video version is well worth seeking out to get a feeling of the palpable energy and synergy between the band members. The song itself cartwheels along with fizzing energy, infectious and intimate.

Spending a lot of time listening to post- music and its tendency toward v e r y l o n g s o n g s, it’s refreshing that on Holy Ground, Burial Waves, while not quite getting down to punk’s two-minute ethos, peg most of their songs at the 3–4-minute mark. The exception being the last song on the record, “The Guest”, which tips the scales at six minutes. Urgent and insistent, beautiful discordance and feedback lead the way for a musical manifesto delivered with snarling disdain. “What do you do? What do you do? Wait for the whole damn world to come around?” We don’t revolve around you, mate!

The connection and mutual respect between the members of the band is felt in the way that no-one seems to be the star of the show – it’s a team effort with no rampant egos on display. Despite being just five songs and less than 23 minutes. Holy Ground delivers more than enough ideas, dynamics and feeling to make it feel like you’re listening to a full album. You may come out of it battered and bruised from the punches, but you’ll feel like a champion.