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The prolific Emil Amos may be better known to some of you as the founder and multi-instrumentalist behind Grails, or as the drummer in Om, but before any of those bands came along, he worked on his own, mostly home-recorded project called Holy Sons.

From the mid-90s he wrote hundreds of songs, the majority of them unreleased, the others forming the discography of the band we now know as Holy Sons. The Fact Facer is the latest release under that name, and sees him continue to move away from the lo-fi beginnings to create an album of melancholic and cleverly arranged indie-rock, dominated by his impressive yet world weary vocal style.

The grim album artwork -basically a hanged man within a larger noose - and the fact that track one is called 'Doomed Myself', hint at a sound even darker than Om, however this is not the case. Musically, the Fact Facer is filled with sad, downbeat material but this owes more to the masters of seventies melancholy, such as Gene Clark, Chris Bell and even Neil Young, than any contemporary doom bands.

In fact 'Doomed Myself' does have the bleakest riff and some of the gloomiest lyrics, but Emil's strong vocal and clever production lift it up. Overall it has the feel of a song that would fit well on the last Scout Niblett album, which Emil also contributed to.

In fact the production is constantly surprising. 'Wax Gets in Your Eyes' is a densely layered song with lots going on, and the way in which the melodies develop and interweave is very skilful. 'Long Days' goes against the prevailing indie-country-folk mood with almost dubby percussion and a lovely wash of sounds.

'Line Me Back Up' sees keyboards adding colour to what once was a straightforward acoustic guitar tune, and on 'Selfish Thoughts' the vocals are laid-back and deep over a drum machine and pretty acoustic guitars. 'Back Down to the Tombs' is the most epic sounding, with a menacing guitar line creating tension against the lovely arrangement.

'Transparent Powers' has a fluid, almost blues-based guitar line snaking its way through the song, while the vocals are multi layered and reminiscent of some of Beck's woozy old tunes. That comparison also comes up on 'Life Could Be A Dream' although it is more likely to be due to a distillation of influences - four-track recording and folk-blues composition to name but two - than a direct homage. If anything it points towards an edgier more psychedelic direction than Beck ended up taking.

'All Too Free' manages to sound polished yet organic at the same time. Piano and acoustic guitar dominate, there is some wonderfully expressive drumming, and Emil's voice sounds incredible. like it belongs on one of those sad country-rock albums from the seventies. 'No Self Respect' is an equally great vocal performance with the band really gelling behind him.

The album concludes with the title track, which has apparently been around for the best part of a decade but has only been released now. It is the rawest track here, just Emil and an acoustic guitar, and it's interesting to hear how the songs sound stripped back.

A whole album of bare arrangements might have been too much to take, but The Fact Facer applies variety and imagination throughout, which doesn't dilute the melancholy, yet ensures that the album doesn't become an overbearing listen. If anything it is the opposite, as the band are full of surprises and Emil Amos's voice is often a joy to hear. By the end of the album you can scarcely believe that this man is the drummer in Om.

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