Holy Beach is a great example of what happens when a songwriter follows their muse. Vocalist/guitarist/songwriter John Lally discovered much of the new material he composed wouldn’t fit well with his existing band Sleep Therapy and groped for a time about what to do. He soon settled on recruiting able musicians from the Southern music scene capable of helping him realize the potential of these new songs and Holy Beach emerged from their joint exploration. He’s joined by guitarists Jon Hilton, Mike Gibbs, and Jason Petty, drummer Jordan Hershaft, and bassist Kevin Faivre for an eight song collection assured to rattle your speakers and flatten your senses with its raw rock muscle.
“Ships Off The Coast” has one of the strongest guitar riffs on the album and grinds you into submission. It, likewise, benefits from one of Lally’s best singing performances on All That Matters Is This Matter rather than relying on shouting and screaming instead. Don’t be misled, however, into believing this more traditional straight-forward vocal lacks punch and fire. Lally more than matches up with the arrangement, no small feat, and there’s enough grit and gravel in his vocal chords to convince even hardened skeptics he means every word. This is as far from paint by numbers performance as it gets.
The album reaches an even higher level with the song tandem of “Confident Prick” and its follow up “Incest In the Herd”. “Confident Prick” cuts deep with its razor sharp lyrical and musical edge and the arrangement maximizes its dramatic potential. It sparks and flares with blatant aggression yet never takes a cheap route towards impressing listeners. The mammoth rhythm section performance is a highlight for me. “Incest In The Herd” continues pushing the same aggressive attitude on listeners, but has a more straight ahead arrangement than the earlier song. It has another of the album’s best riffs working in its favor and effective double tracked vocals during the verses.
“International Graves” is one of the album’s longer songs and Holy Beach takes it as an opportunity to stretch musically. The Götterdämmerung-like crash of the song’s stately first half breaks open into a full on romp later in the song and Lally’s vocals evolve from forlorn into rage-possessed. The band slows things down again for the song’s final passages. “Skull Faced on a Horse”, the album’s last track, is the longest song on All That Matters Is This Matter and puts the band on violent footing as they take their leave. It is a crushing, unforgiving performance with Holy Beach bringing their full bevy of guitars down on listener’s heads without ceremony or pretense. The lyrics, as grim as ever, are among the album’s best.
Holy Beach vary their eight song debut enough to keep things fresh for listeners, but another uptempo song might have strengthened the overall effect of All That Matters Is This Matter. Their daring sets them apart from their peers – none of the songs included on this release feel cookie cutter or follow a single undeviating path. It’s one of the most promising hard rock/metal debuts I’ve heard in some time.