healthyliving – Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief

I hate the term “female-fronted”.  It feels disrespectful.  But when I look at the releases that have interested me this year, I realized that a large percentage of them have had female vocalists.  Looking forward to the ones I’m planning to review in the near future, there are even more.  One of these is the debut from healthyliving.  Their album Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief releases on April 7th.

Healthyliving’s members hail from Scotland and Germany.  The band is a collaboration between longtime friends that have appeared in other bands, such as Maud the Moth, Falloch, and Ashenspire.  Their new project’s lineup includes Amaya López Carromero on vocals, Scott McLean on guitars, synth, and bass, and Stefan Pötzsch on drums.

I really like the sound they’ve concocted here.  They play a doomy post-rock that surges into noise rock now and then.  It feels heavy, psychedelic, and even unusual to some degree.  You’ll hear lots of percussion-heavy grooves and walls of hazy riffs on some songs, and ambient shadows on others.  Some of the songs almost bounce along with some level of joy, and others are somber and arcane affairs.  It’s a dark and complex sound, maybe more complex than it appears at first.

Amaya’s voice is a major component of what sets them apart from other bands.  Her voice can either strike a low and melodic chord, or it can come across as piercing and “wicked”.  Her two basic styles are very impressive as she transitions back and forth, emoting fervently.  As the album title implies, some of the songs are happier than others, but I think human desire lies at the center of them all.

There isn’t a bad song on the album.  I really like the lumbering opener “Until” with its evocative vocals and roaring guitars, single “Dream Hive” for its energetic and catchy chorus, and single “Galleries” for its darkened corridor of feelings.  That last one has such an expressive vocal performance.

Other highlights for me are “To the Fields” with its spinetingling vocals that come surging in after a slow burning first half, “To the Gallows” with its gloriously eerie style and sharp lyrics, and the firelight closer “Obey” with its meaningful and ponderous gait.  The last four songs on the album are all pretty slow and emotional, but the final one is my favorite.

Healthyliving have a rock-solid debut on their hands.  I like the textures and distorted imagery they are using, and the combination of Amaya’s searing vocals and the walls of dreamy riffs is an effective one.  I’m looking forward to hearing more.


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