Album Review :
Holding Onto Hope - Of The Sea

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Band: Holding Onto Hope
Title: Of The Sea
Label: Come&Live!
Release Date: 2009
Review By: Scott L

Tracklisting:

01. Of The Sea
02. We Are The Beacons
03. Departure
04. Between Failure And Fraud
05. Speak Your Words
06. The Stillness
07. What You Make Of Me
08. Bounded By The Devil And The Deep
09. The Watchman
10. The Keeper And The Calm
11. Your Path Was In The Great Waters

People hold on to the strangest things. Heck, I knew a guy in high school that held on to his toe nail clippings. True story. He kept them in a little box in his bedroom. Why? No idea. Freaky? Most definitely. My point is that in life there are some things that you desperately need to let go of… and then there are some things that you desperately need to hold on to. One of the things that you’d do well to hold on tightly to… is hope. There’s a reason that Jesus mentions hope, along with love and faith, as something that abides. Hope has the power to carry you through life’s darkest moments. When everything else has failed and the tide seems to be turning against you for the last time… there’s always hope. Hope is something worth holding on to.

Holding Onto Hope is one of those bands that you can’t help but love because of their sheer passion. In the music that they play, for sure, but even more in the message that they bring. It’s the passion that pours out of every line that’ll keep you coming back for more. Holding Onto Hope is a 5-piece out of sunny California that’s got a screamo/post-hardcore-ish sound that’s similar to bands like La Dispute, The Earth And Everything In It, and Verse. While not the most diverse album I’ve heard lately, an argument could be made for simply not jacking with a good thing. What they do, they do well. Their sound is fine tuned, aggressive, and as full-bodied as Fabio’s hair

Some tracks start off fairly conservatively, easing you in before suddenly breaking around you like a choppy surf. Others simply crash into the room and steal your breath away. The production values are all top notch and everything comes through crisp and clear. Which is to be expected coming from Come&Live! records, a label pushing for its market share and doing so with integrity and a quality product. Not to mention a powerful message.

Speaking of the message, lyrically, Holding Onto Hope’s 11-song release “Of The Sea” is all about… well… all about hope. Go figure. It’s about hope that the world can’t give you and hope that the world can’t take away from you. A hope that’s rooted and grounded in God alone. Don’t misinterpret that to mean that it’s all religious syrup and no substance, quite the opposite. These guys steer right into the eye of the storm and address the hard issues of despair and hopelessness while always bringing it back around to hope itself. Consider the song “Between Failure and Fraud” which says, “So speak / I hear the words, I look away / I hear your words, I turn and say / read my lips / I’m done with it / read my lips / I’m done with this / I’m not as good as you think / not as bad as you believe / there are better things / there are worse things / how can I look you in the eyes? / then repeat, repeat! / where is truth behind a lying tongue? / how can grace come to a failing one? / I wonder around… aimlessly searching / but all that I’ve found is nothing is working / You told me again, and over again / But I won’t hear you, I’ll find my own way.” Or how about the song “We are the Beacons” which says, “how can I just stand here? / oh, what you keep me up / I’ve become what I hate / I’ve seen who you are / I need grace, grace, grace! / the walls fall / I’m buried beneath the stones / but I’ll climb through the ruins and… / rise! we are the beacons! / make not a sound / must we be heard / will you follow? / what are you waiting for? / I’m still waiting for / will you follow? / what are you waiting for? I’m still waiting for / I’m spinning around and around / so, rip the blinds from my deceiving eyes / take this life I attempt to try / you can’t make me move / these walls are shaking / I hope we make it / please God break these holds / I can’t let them go.”

Their MySpace page lays out the heart and focus of their ministry, “The sole purpose and vision of this band is to share the message of hope and truth to those who are weary. There is a dying world of people that are completely empty and we want to reach them through music. I think we all lose sight at times with everything going on in our lives, but we hold on and push through to find truth and hope. Even if this band reaches 5 people that were bummed out on their lives and find something real, its all worth it. We love you guys so much, this is yours, let’s do it together. If you need anything at all please message us, we are here for you. Enjoy your life, don’t look back, do what moves your heart.”

Standout track was “Between Failure And Fraud” which has a way groovy thread that flows through it. Just an all around awesome song. I also really dug the last track “Your Path Was In The Great Waters” which is an instrumental of sorts with lots of strings, thunder claps and a bit of low tone spoken word. Very ambient, very moody, very nice.

Overall: The word ‘passion’ is so over used these days that it’s almost lost its potency. But I’ve gotta use it here. Because if there’s one word that defines Holding Onto Hope, besides ‘mustache’, it’s passion. Passion in their music. Passion in their message. And passion toward the hope that God freely offers to a lost and dying world. If you’re at all into the post-hardcore style of rock, “Of The Sea” is a must. 

www.myspace.com/hohband

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