Surprise by location, surprise by sound. Surprise, Arizona, quartet Holmstrum fuse pop-punk and alt-rock with elements of metalcore and overtly emo lyrics to form a fascinatingly diverse sound that varies from track to track.
Our latest taste of this is debut EP While We Were Distant, which was released last Friday (20 September). The EP provides four tracks that are perfect to pop on anytime you’ve had a bad day, filled with emo angstiness and big filthy riffs.
It opens in style with the excellent Empty Rooms, which begins with fuzzy guitars then a big smash of heavy guitars and little bursts of higher-pitched guitars. That feeds into a verse of light vocals, which suddenly explode into more intense vocals over heavy guitar chords.
Almost spoken vocals give the second verse a more emo edge, then the ensuing chorus gives way to shouted vocals over bursts of low-tuned guitars. A cool fast-paced little solo takes over and feeds into a final chorus. Give it a listen below:
The heaviness is ramped up by the almighty darting guitar riff that opens up next track Pisces, then frontman Kody Henry’s intense screamed vocals. A more melodic chorus is answered by a huge blast of guitars and spoken and screamed vocals.
And that intensity continues on Skinned Doll, with big rolling drums and a chugging bassline supporting layered guitars. Palm-muted guitars support Kody’s engaging, angsty vocals “Did you expect I’d forget this, Are you that self-absorbed to expect my forgiveness, Now you’re far away from home, You’ve got this dog in your bed, Playing coy like you didn’t do this, Never thought you’d think so low, I didn’t know you’d have the capacity to be this cold, Now I’m a fucking mess and it’s probably fucking best if you get as far away from me as you can.”
It dives into a chorus of the superb high-pitched vocals “And when your dreams start to rust how will you justify ignorance, How will you sell it then you soulless fucking piece of shit, And when your love succumbs to lust from an underlying lack of trust, How will you spin it then you unfaithful fucking hypocrite.” Check it out below:
But more goodness is to come, as the band close the EP with the superb Cracked. A delicious riff that darts between low-tuned notes and high-pitched bursts opens up then supports more angsty vocals, including “I don’t wanna see your face anymore, It fucks with my head.” It brings an excellent, fast-paced quartet of emo angstiness to an enjoyable close.
We had a chat with the band around the release of Empty Rooms as a single to find out more, read on below…
GR: Who are Holmstrum?
H: “Holmstrum is a four-piece alternative rock act from Surprise, AZ. Originally a trio, all members worked together and decided to jam and form, months later they found vocalist Kody Henry to complete the lineup.”
GR: You just released Empty Rooms. What should people be expecting from the song?
H: “Expect something raw and emotionally honest. The song is about being alone shortly after the end of a relationship, sitting in a room with all these memories and trying to make sense of it.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
H: “I would describe our sound as a blend of all things. There’s alt-rock, metalcore and a little bit of pop-punk. It all varies song to song, we aren’t really beholden to one genre.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
H: “Mostly emotions in general, being completely open and honest with the listener so that maybe if they’re going through something similar, they have someone to relate to. We write about mental health, relationships, substance use, all these pseudo taboo subjects.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
H: “Individually, we all draw our musical influences from artists like August Burns Red, Blink-182, Korn and Motionless In White.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about Holmstrum/your music?
H: “Expect something different, familiar, and brutally honest.”