Stumbling upon new synthwave that stands out is quite exciting, but it’s even more exciting when it’s around the spooky season — case in point, French musician Dav Dralleon with H O L Y W R A T H. Last year, I was blessed with the chilling choice-cuts from Slasher Dave, and this year I’ve been given another synthwave effort with similar horror flavorings. This is labeled as an EP, but there’s enough music here to warrant a full-length ride.
The easiest way to tell how well it works is how much you can feel the music. Dav Dralleon makes sure of that due to bassy notes and crawling frequencies and effects. “H E L R A I D E R” is not only the first song to heavily display this, but it crafts an unsettling aura to follow the epic opener. But the biggest standout here is “W O L V E S Q U A D” because of how heavy it is, crossing paths with metal. Featuring an electric guitar solo adds tons of life here, which eventually takes over the rhythm section with beefy riffs.
Admittedly, H O L Y W R A T H is not without fault, but it’s thankfully very minor. Certain moments get far too grainy, mostly in the overly-intense parts with too much going on. “A L T E R D E A T H” is a good example of that, and it creeps into the closer “V A U L T O V D O O M,” too. That aside, the latter is a longer number just over seven minutes that closes everything on a firm note. It’s more epic than the opening track, yet maintains the haunting image.
This entire genre is something that I’m very selective about, and finding albums that I truly enjoy is far harder than it is with heavy metal. I can say with confidence that this is a worthwhile spin, as it has that x-factor that makes it stand out. It’s a perfect spin for the Halloween season, especially if you dig this style.
H O L Y W R A T H came out on September 27th, 2019, and can be found here.