top of page
  • Artist: Holocaust
  • Label: Edgy Records
  • UPC: 5019148627036
  • Genre: Heavy Metal
  • Release Date: 2000

    In 1989, following their NWOBHM era, Holocaust (i.e. John Mortimer) decided to pursue a different direction, one involving a lot of Voivod and Rush influence and taking it from there. This produced albums like The Sound Of Souls, Hypnosis Of Birds and Covenant. This brings us to 2000, 11 years after the emergence of this new sound, and Mortimer still showed no signs of slowing down with the release of The Courage To Be. This album, while still fundamentally quite similar to the previous two full-lengths, eschews the thrashier, more aggressive aspects of those efforts in favour of Alder Fates Warning influence and some prog rock touches. Of course, since Hypnosis Of Birds Holocaust have shared some similarities with Ray Alder-era Fates Warning; deeply personal, introspective music; a sense of pervasive melancholy; and a focus on albums rather than songs, taken to its logical extreme in cases. However, with The Courage To Be we see Holocaust take on an even more personal, stream-of-consciousness feeling, much like Fates Warning on, say, A Pleasant Shade Of Grey. However, while that album is much more stripped-down and primal, The Courage To Be is rather superficially complex. Both albums require the listener to dig deeper; on this album, the listener finds a sense of cognitive dissonance present; the seemingly upbeat riffs and melodies are contrasted with dissonant harmonies that create a sense of confusion and turmoil. This is more and more evident as the album progresses, with The Collective sounding fairly positive even after multiple listens, but then Neurosis comes in with a definite sense of aggression and slight melancholy. There is clearly a duality at play here; a person struggling between superficial cheeriness and the inner pain they hide. This track is probably the most similar to the previous albums, with its emphasis on thrash and similar sound to Voivod. The album becomes more introspective and prog-rocky again with the interesting duo of When Penelope Dreams. The first part is quite wistful in nature, suggesting desires that manifest during dreams but can’t ever be achieved. I believe this track goes on a bit too long, although its calm soundscapes are certainly a nice reprieve from the melancholy thrash of the previous track. Perhaps I’m just not a fan of prog rock; either way it’s certainly not bad, just a bit bloated. Towards the end we get an eerie, distorted riff that leads into the once again more dissonant second part, suggesting perhaps a nightmare instead of a daydream, or at least fears beginning to creep in. The rest of the album is pretty much a repetition of this theme of duality, albeit a well-constructed one. A superficially happy or hopeful track contrasted with a melancholy or hopeless one, perpetually reinforcing the inner turmoil of the character (assumedly Penelope). As the album progresses, though, the pain becomes more and more thinly veiled, until in the last song the torturous melody transforms into a sort of uplifting one, seeming to represent that the character has finally transformed her pain into something more bearable. Interestingly, this song also makes use of the main riff from Yes hit Owner of a Lonely Heart, though I’m not sure whether that’s supposed to signify something or if Mortimer just thought it was a good fit. Overall this album can get a bit overlong at times, but when you really pay attention to it, is quite complex and rewarding, and is recommended for fans of the style. It’s not quite up to par with the previous three albums, but it’s certainly worth your time.

Holocaust - The Courage To Be (CD) (2000 Edgy Records)

    bottom of page