Holyphant – Black Flames review and interview


Holyphant are a power trio from Italy. In 2014 they released their first EP, ‘Black Flames’, and I took this for a spin.

From the bluesy, bass-heavy intro with a gentle guitar into the fuzzy main riff the anticipation builds with Ghost Mind, and when as it starts shifts tempo to full gear proper you’re aboard the Holyphant train. With Cold Shiver you can almost see the acid color plates in the background in your mind’s eye, it’s a Psychedelic Bluesrock masterpiece, complete with twin guitar riffage. Centerpiece 8-min behemoth The Circle shifts the vibe a decade or so, with some wonderful riff-heavy power metal that should put a smile on the faces of any true rock fan. Halfway it shifts back to Floyd-meets-Chtulu over some very pleasing guitar tunes. This song is diverse enough that it could have easily lasted another 5 minutes without boring the listener, ending very strong as well. My absolute favourite track of this EP. Titlesong Black Flames cements the heavy psych sound (with some effective cow bells, might need more!), continuing the strong musical identity of this band all through this release. Closing track Heart of the Sun shifts back to a trance-like mood, invoking a desert vibe to gently lead the listener away after the preceding heavy riffage.

I was very impressed by this release and I hope there will be more to come soon from this talented bunch. I managed to get vocalist/guitarist Bale to answer some questions:

Tell me a bit your background, how did you guys meet and form a band?We met at a local show. We were playing with different bands at the time, and shared our passion for 70’s hard rock bands and dark raw sounds. So we decided to start a band with the same mood.

Black Flames was released in 2014, what can you tell me about recording and releasing this?
“Black Flames EP” is , for us, a sort of “business card”. After a little period of songwriting, we went at the Velvet Recording Studios, near Venice. Well, it’s a direct recording, with no overdubs, except for the vocals and the guitar solos. We wanted a raw sound, not digitally processed, to grasp the essence of the band. We recorded it in one day.


The Nordic countries have held the candle for rock music through some pretty dark times, lately there’s a lot of interesting new stuff coming from the South. What can you tell us about the environment for bands in your area and in your country.
Great bands come from Northern Europe, but here in Italy the stoner/doom underground is alive and kicking! There are very good bands with great ideas. It’s very difficult to be heard, if you don’t have big money, there are few clubs to gig. But the passion for this kind of music is definitively alive and growing.


I read you are writing material for a full album, is there any concrete interest from a label already? We are considering some proposals, we want to choose the best for us

In your new material, will you continue the same themes of exploring the dark side of the human mind, and if so why does this inspire you?
Yes, We will try to speak about the Man and his sensations through metaphors. I think this fits very much with the feelings of our music. But there will be also other stories influenced by our condition, philosophical writings, 70’s horror directors such as Argento, Fulci and Avati, that we love.
How would you describe your band/style/music?
If I have to to find some words to describe our sound, Retro/psych/doom rock
What are your immediate ambitions?
We wish to play live as much as we can, showing our emotions through the music and getting good vibes from the audience, wherever it will be. And writing good material, of course.
Any shows or tour lined up?
We will play at some local gigs here in Italy, but we are planning a little tour abroad for the future. It’s not easy but we believe we can do it.


Thanks a lot for the interview Bale, good luck to you and the rest of the band. I hope to hear more from you guys soon!

Beesus – The Rise Of Beesus


The Rise of Beesus starts with an ominous swelling distorted guitar sound accompanied by some eerie chants. They get chased away by the heavy riff and drums kick in to start the song proper and introduce the vocals that imbue a new sense of urgency. The chorus has some pleasing White Album-esque harmonies and a pleasingly effective guitar fill. The last quarter of the song has serves as a big outro with some groovy soloing and the vocals gaining even more urgency, bordering on madness.

It flows into 6ft Under Box with a short drum break, continuing the urgency in rhythm and vocals. It is clear Beesus is not taking us on a journey of complacency, the fuzzy guitars shred any kind of comfort and keep you moving towards the intended destination. Did not feel edged on by a song like this since maybe The Police’s disturbing Mother. The album manages to be very engaging and conveying their intended atmosphere so far.

Stonerslam starts with a groove like a 70s Blaxploitation flick’s theme, rolling into fuzzy heavy riffing. The vocal urgency is unfalteringly present, channeling Arthur Brown and the music keeps edging on.

Waltzer continues in much of the same vein, followed by Kusa slowing down into a Doors-like desert rock vibe, giving the listener a short lull. The dreamy vocals gradually get the familiar descent into desperation, helped by counter harmonies and swelling of the music’s intensity. A key track of the album.

Zenza picks up the pace again, and on the face of it is much more cheerful, with an alt.rock intro and vocal delivery, until halfway it sludges into a slow groove and covers the listener with a heavy blanket of Doom.

Sonic Doom/Stoner Youth continues the themes in a straightforward Stoner track, and not for the first time the tone and intensity is changes totally halfway. Especially if you listen to the whole album in sequence in one sitting these shifts and interludes help to keep the attention and to add layers to the soundscape that the band is trying to build.

A power finish paves the way for the frantic stylings of Mata La Verguenza. This song’s halfway shift brings a very pleasing chorus and a killer solo, it feels like this could have been easily a song on its own.

Beesus In Dope turns up the Doom knobs to 11 again, with a short Psych intermezzo, droning towards a cacophonic climax. …And servers as a coda, with a chaotic riff-driven conclusion to the saga.

My overall impression: Beesus’ play on song structures, solid musicianship and novel approach of fuzzing and psyching up 90s alt.rock vibes makes this a very interesting debut indeed. I thoroughly enjoyed this album and will certainly play it many more times to experience this trip.

My Rating: 85/100

You can follow Beesus here (they are touring right now) and get the album here.