James Welburn’s ‘Hold’ growls fearsomely as it goes through the gears. High octane drums and barely suppressed rhythms contort and writhe inside a shared womb constructed out of wiry, congealed drones. The drone should have a health and safety label slapped onto the front of it, warning the listener to be careful of its sharp, nasty edges. They cut through metal. Released on Miasmah, Hold has been a long time coming. Now that it’s finally here, the listener can experience the destructive fury of the record. ‘Naught’ opens it up, and this is the kind of drone that has spent time in prison. It’s an unstoppable force, and with the fiery drumming the music has an authentic, ravaging sound. In fact, the drone plays a secondary role to the drumming. It’s that influential, and that important.
The music is built on repetition, but it never gets dull or outstays its welcome. There’s always something going on behind the drums; a sudden, overdriven blast or a powerful surge that eventually subsides. The seismic drone rushes by with a Nadja-like intensity that spreads its infection to all parts of the music. The bass is also used to drive the music forward, and that’s as close as the listener gets to some well-earned downtime. The cymbals tinkle in the background as the bass plays a steady progression, but this is just the precursor to an inevitable blast of raw power. The distorted mine-field of ‘Shift’ never lets up; the drums pound through a hazy sheet of 4 a.m harmony, low and sleepily distant. On the finale, the drums thunder off into the distance, but the clangs and rattles ominously pursue the music. Like a caged beast, the music clatters against its steel bars, and it comes oh-so-close to destroying them. Hold is brutal and arresting.