Make America dark again
Holy Void offers searing punk rock and blackened harmonies
In Dante’s “Inferno,” the innermost level of hell is reserved for a very special brand of treasonous coward. In the mind of Dante, as in life, there are varying degrees of evil, yet at the end of the day there is nothing more abominable than destructive deception.
It is no secret that in Oklahoma there is a divide. Light vs. dark, left vs. right, religious vs. atheist, timid vs. outspoken. It is this divide and its dark shadow that forms the root spark for the blistering, tarry, unholy explosion of blackened sound that is Tulsa’s own Holy Void.
A live Holy Void show is a pummeling, breakneck onslaught of otherworldly hardcore punk. The classic, time-honored forms of hardcore—relentless D-beat rhythms pounded out over a cacophonic fistfight of searing, shredding guitars and frenetic, enraged bass runs—is present in Holy Void’s sound. But there’s another, more important presence: the undeniable sonic fingerprint of unholy evil, that same character of sound that can change a church hymn into a death march by virtue of one dark, forbidden, well-placed chord.
Holy Void songs are short but dense, just like their discography. So far Holy Void’s only release is a split 7” single with Tulsa’s Senior Fellows. The single’s two songs, “Rat King” and “Prisoner,” were recorded by Bob Hensley. The two tracks are furious and unrelenting and leave the listener bloodthirsty for more. Fortunately, the band plans to record approximately eight to 10 songs in April for an EP-length release.
When listening to Holy Void, I get the sense that there is something not right in the world—something sinister and dark that needs to be brought to light. This, as it turns out, is intentional.
“Honestly, the world is sort of a terrible place. What can I, or we as a band, do to change that?” guitarist and vocalist Brian Troth said. “We use our anger, or darkness if you want to call it that, to target all that we feel is corrupt or problematic in society. There are things people don’t want to think about or discuss because it may be uncomfortable, but that’s not going to change a thing. You gotta confront it.”
All five members of Holy Void share a common bond: They grew up in the Bible Belt, noticed the hypocrisy surrounding them, and decided to make music to address this evil.
Three of the five members were also members of now-defunct Operator Dead: Post Abandoned, which ran from 2004–2011 and had a constantly changing lineup. Operator Dead had a different sound. It was heavy, impressive, tightly wound hardcore punk, just like Holy Void, but the song structures in the old band were more technical and less emotionally haunting.
Four years after Operator Dead’s last show, Holy Void formed. Troth moved back to Tulsa after a stint in Arizona and talked with his old friends and Operator Dead alumni Eric Salazar (vocals) and Patrick Caldwell (drums) about forming a new band, one they could have more fun with. They brought Clay Flores (bass) and Clay Buckles (guitar) onboard and started writing sounds that were, in the words of Troth, “more straightforward, more angry.”
Holy Void’s artistic inspiration is razor-focused. When asked what albums most contributed to their sound, they responded, nearly in unison, “Cursed’s One and II.” They share a strong, kindred connection to the Canadian hardcore band’s blend of angry punk and blackened harmonies, as well as the sense of alienation spawning from similar cultural geographies. Holy Void also cites the recorded works of His Hero Is Gone
and From Ashes Rise as major influences.
But that otherworldly component that marks Holy Void’s sound—the infernal, accursed darkness—has deeper roots even still. “Maturing had a lot to do with it,” said Troth. Indeed, he, Caldwell, and Salazar are now married with families, and life is busier. “When you have your first kid, it changes your life.”
“The world becomes scarier,” said Caldwell, who has been creating scary music for over a decade.
“It’s like being born again. You have to figure everything out again,” Troth said.
Responsibility is dark and personal, and the catharsis is real. A Holy Void show is a release, both for the crowd and the band. “Everything that’s inside me, I’m going to push it out,” said Troth.
“It’s therapeutic,” Caldwell said. “I don’t remember anything in our shows. It’s your purest time, and it’s also your most vulnerable. Those two things combined ...,” Caldwell stared off, pausing. “Afterwards I’m in such a good mood.”
The Holy Voids of this world are important, because right now in Oklahoma there’s a kid waking up from the lies she’s been told. The words her parents, her pastor, and her government force down her throat don’t add up. She wonders if anyone around her is also thinking these thoughts. She’s getting angry, and hopefully she will discover some hardcore punk.
Holy Void with Storm(o) and Niboowin
Fri., Apr. 13, 9 p.m. | Barkingham Palace
412 S. Phoenix Ave. | Free and all ages (Donations for touring bands encouraged)