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APPALOOZA - “The Holy Of Holies” - (Ripple, 2021, Brest, France) -

Posted on the 09 May 2021 by Ripplemusic
APPALOOZA - “The Holy Of Holies” - (Ripple, 2021, Brest, France) -

APPALOOZA is an interesting story for me.To be honest (what, am I usually lying? ��) until I saw news of their sophomore album coming out on Ripple this year, I'd never heard of them.Fact is, the only APPALOOSA's (note spelling difference) I'd ever heard of were the horse & the local cover band. Imagine then, my deep & fervent surprise when I learned these guys formed in France way back in 2012. Not only that, they issued 2 demos (2013 & 2014), followed by a 3-state US tour. As if that weren't enough, they released a self-titled album in 2018 and embarked on ANOTHER jaunt to these shores, this time spanning the Midwest to the left coast. Well, despite me, as a music fan, having obviously slept through all that, Todd & Pope at Ripple stayed awake and signed these 3 cats up for their 2nd full length platter, this year's "The Holy Of Holies."

Strangely enough, when I opened that latest package from Mr Severin & Co, this was the disc I hadn't expected to see within but...hmmm...look at that cover art. Nice! So, I threw it in. The first two songs, "Storm" & "Snake Charmer" were plundering rawk with a thudding heaviness.Coupled with guitarist Sylvain Morrel's Layne Staley-like voice, this initial pair of cuts had a kinda AIC-goes-stoner feel that, while not overwhelming, definitely got my attention.

And then...APPALOOZA took me down the rabbit hole!"Reincarnation" came slamming in on a riff that's as bizarre as it is cool. Imagine BÖC's "Seven Screaming Diz-Busters" being played in some weird land between the Mojave desert and Seattle! Next up comes "Nazareth," and much as I love 'em, I ain't talkin' 'bout no goddamn Scottish hard rockers! This one rides in on an Eastern Appaloosa, a veritable Orange-amped Kingston Wall.

I'm torn between a few but the next track is quite possibly the "Conquest" of my favorites on the album.Clocking in at over 7 minutes, it builds on a Crimson "Red" vibe then segues into a gorgeous acoustic coda with haunting choral vox. This is nice...and it continues!You've got "Azazael," with its tribal opening, gorgeous chorus and chanting outro. There's "Distress," borne on a fast, circular riff yet lent vast dynamics by the pop-like "ooh-ooh's" in the chorus. Couple this with the lyrics "We're already dead" & a guitar solo reminiscent of Glenn Tipton in "Grinder" and you can see the kind of breadth on hand here.

Coming down the home stretch, "Thousand Years After" offers an ascending rhythm that morphs into a "What's that?!?!" moment at 4:33 when out of nowhere we're in the middle of a circus-like waltz!Then, the nearly 9-minute "Canis Majoris" brings things to a close with its extended acoustic intro, a massive lumbering Sab-riffian and a chorus that sounds like a high mass.

I may never get up on out of this rabbit hole because I keep pressing "repeat."One thing you can be sure of, though, is that I'm not missing the call when APPALOOZA wants to take me down the next one.

-Ray Dorsey

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