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Having consistently played the part of support band for headliners such as Balance and Composure and La Dispute, and having only released trickles of their own material in the past, Melbourne’s Have/Hold have been hovering just beneath the limelight for quite some time now. Innovative and dynamic, Have/Hold, however, are destined for much more than the underwhelming career of a support band. Their first official release, Calm Your Blood attests to this, and with any luck, may provide Have/Hold with the opportunity they need for their vivacious and tantalising alternative rock to be propelled into the (relative) mainstream.
‘They Kicked Me Out Of The Empire, Mama’ is a sensitive and hushed beginning to an EP that is equal parts reticent and powerful. The delicate and ambient guitar lead is a elusive introduction to Have/Hold’s stylistically impassioned and potent vocal delivery. Have/Hold may, at various moments on their EP, sounds very much like many of rock’s most accomplished artists (Brand New, Muse and Manchester Orchestra to name a few). However, they come across as far too creative and intriguing to sound rehashed, and as such, avoid altogether the trap of sounding like an amalgamation of already existing material.
Calm Your Blood demonstrates an impressive ability to fuse fantastical lyricism with vocals that are both authentically urgent and melodramatic. On ‘Gethsemane’ the slow moving melodies slide along with the low croon and at times, falsetto moan of the vocalist, whose confident delivery sets Have/Hold apart. Similarly, on ‘Monuments’ the vocals, a fusion of male and female harmonies, are effortlessly commanding., and on ‘You’ll Be Smoke’ the delivery is haunting and deeply possessed, at times bordering on being incoherent or hysterical.
There are tracks such as ‘Gethsemane’ and ‘You’ll Be Smoke,’ where the ambient instrumentation lacks vigour or conviction. However, where these tracks might fall short in physical strength, the intoxicating instrumental excursions, from the mild subtleties of the piano, to the varying ferocities of the guitar and percussion ensembles, more than make up for it. Lastly, ‘Drunk Letter’ is, like the rest of the EP, a lyrical masterpiece. Articulate and poetic, the track is a truly a refreshing dedication to the art of lyricism in a sea of half hearted song writing from bands who succeed in all other areas.
A deliciously tremendous and adventurous indie release, it is unlikely that 2014 has, or ever will bring to the table an EP quite like Have/Hold’s ‘Calm Your Blood’. A considerably momentous and courageous listening experience in itself, Calm Your Blood illuminates the stage for Have/Hold in the years to come.
1. They Kicked Me Out of the Empire Mama
4. You’ll Be Smoke
5. Drunk Letter