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–The Holy Warheads: Gravity (Honyock Records, 2017) Local West Michigan Artist Spotlight

–The Holy Warheads: Gravity, Honyock Records, 2017 (Local West Michigan Artist Spotlight)

The Holy Warheads are lighting up the city. Rest assured, this cliché is no mere hyperbole stemming from the sheer awesomeness of their name. Their live shows, for instance, are always destructive, incendiary, nuclear even. Sonically, this Grand Rapids-based quartet transcends narrow sub-genre restrictions with their melodic and original brand of hard rock. But, yes, their band name is still really cool.

 Fronted by the prolific Joe Henry — also guitarist with zany hardcore-punk rockers The Westside Rebellion, as well as his inimitable singer/songwriter solo act American Zombie Inquisition — The Holy Warheads deftly tread that fine line between punk rock, classic hard rock, and grunge. Yes, I said “grunge,” the once ubiquitous sub-genre that reached its melancholy zenith over 20 years ago. Indeed, one can hear as many references to SoundgardenPearl Jam, and Temple of the Dog as the Sex PistolsAC/DC, or Social Distortion.

On Gravity, The Holy Warheads’ new mini album, the quartet has melded all these disparate influences into five catchy, mid-paced, and deep-grooving tunes. Henry’s unique, deep-register voice is the clear focal point of their music. His strong vibrato and pristine tone brings the stirring vocal melodies to life. Bassist Kevin Keefer (also of G.R. instrumental metal gods Knives Are Quiet) provides the driving bass foundation; the sheer power of his filthy, picked bass tone cannot be overstated. Meanwhile, guitarist Ivan Hannah’s minor-key, octave-based riffs, and wah wah-drenched leads (ala Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready) invoke the aforementioned grunge overtones. Drummer Brent Riva muscles through this holy war with power and groove.

If there’s an obvious standout on Gravity, it is the stunning title track. A favorite of their live shows, the slow-and-deliberate “Gravity” opens with a punchy, accented bass riff, followed closely by hooky riffs from Hannah. By the time Henry bellows out the chorus, good luck retrieving this ear worm from your brain. Opening cut “Blood” is a brisk track that features Keefer’s aggressive picking and yet more infectious vocal melodies. “Salt,” another clear-cut highlight, showcases Keefer’s slowly-galloping bass line and simple-yet-melodic guitar work beneath Henry’s serpentine, emotive vocal lines.

In truth, there is nary a weak moment on Gravity. From the emotional, often socially-conscious lyrics, to the catchy choruses, to the moody musical textures — these Warheads are Holy indeed. Also, don’t forget to give them a shoutout on Facebook and a listen over on Bandcamp, or at a West Michigan rock club.–Jonathan Kollnot

–Tracklisting: 1.) Blood 2.) Salt 3.) Gallows 4.) Monsters 5.) Gravity

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~ by jonnyboyrocker on January 10, 2018.

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