Submission Hold - What Holds Back The Elephant (Cover Artwork)

Submission Hold

Submission Hold: What Holds Back The ElephantWhat Holds Back The Elephant (2004)
G7 Welcoming Committee

Reviewer Rating: 4

Contributed by: adamAdam
(others by this writer | submit your own)

What Holds Back The Elephant may be one of the most intelligent, poetic and genuinely passionate records of the year, but that does that make it a fun listen? Submission Hold defies categorization. I've read every clumsy attempt from "agit-punk" to "avant-folk" and "progressive-crust" even "post.
iTunes StoreAmazon

What Holds Back The Elephant may be one of the most intelligent, poetic and genuinely passionate records of the year, but that does that make it a fun listen?

Submission Hold defies categorization. I've read every clumsy attempt from "agit-punk" to "avant-folk" and "progressive-crust" even "post-genre" and I can't say one is more correct than any of the others. Submission Hold share a spiritual connection with Crass in that the band is deadly serious and living their politics. All the disjointed rhythms and angular guitar play here is similar to some of Fugazi's more chaotic moments. Comparisons to Dutch anarcho-punks The Ex and early Patti Smith abound. It puts this in a pretty exclusive club of artistically conscious and politically unyielding bands.

All these influences and contemporaries say two things about the record. Firstly this will most definitely appeal to the activist segment of the punk left who felt the pre-election anti-Bush movement was too trendy and mainstream. Those of you bitter at the fact that otherwise politically silent pop-punk bands were suddenly claiming awareness, take note: This is as real and relevant as it gets. The second thing is that this record isn't for everyone. It's heavy with radical applications of both political opinion and unconventional musicianship. What Holds Back The Elephant is far too immediate and arty for casual listening.

Jen Throwup's vocals range from sorrowful mantras (as in the eco-feminist "Dirt") to frenzied punk shouting (the album opening "Final Coup of the Last Millennium") to leftist coffeehouse folk (the foreboding "Woddenhead"). She can yell with the wild-eyed conviction of a street preacher but has an indescribable sense of unyielding conviction in her quieter moments. The band itself is improvisational yet still tight. Despite the complexity of some of the work a creative interplay of sound persists; there's never a sense that one player has broken off into their solo. Stephen Flach (guitar) Andy Healey (bass) and Kenton Loewen (drums) and a host of guests provide a musical backing that's every bit as varied and eclectic as Jen's vocal delivery.

Submission Hold has delivered provocative and challenging music for more than a decade, and What Holds Back The Elephant is no exception. This may be too far on the fringe musically or thematically for some, but I'd recommend everyone find that out on their own. To those that this passes over, it'll be nothing more than a curiosity, however if this truly resonates with you I suspect the connection will be as deep and profound as the music itself.


Final Coup of the Last Millennium (MP3 / RealAudio)
Woodenhead (MP3 / RealAudio)


People who liked this also liked:
NOFX - The DeclineThe Loved Ones - Keep Your HeartThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!U.S. Bombs - We Are the ProblemThe Sainte Catherines - Dancing for DecadenceBuzzcocks - Flat-Pack PhilosophyThe Slackers - PeculiarThe Gossip - Standing in the Way of ControlThe Briefs - Steal Yer HeartThe Constantines - Tournament of Hearts

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (November 23, 2004)

The music sounds really good, its just I have a thing against female vocals. Now I do like them but they have to be really really great for me to like them and although she is good it still kinda takes me out of the music

Anonymous (November 21, 2004)

actually, these guys DO have their own label cakked Allium. Also, the singer and bass player are responsible for founding a legendarry commune/punk house here in vancouver.

Anonymous (November 21, 2004)

oh shit, i apologize man. by the way, being a fuckface isnt such a bad thing at all. but calling someone a fuckface on the computer is pretty damn sad.

Anonymous (November 21, 2004)

What the fuck are you talking about? I classify bands all the time, and yet I ordered this two days ago. Your theory does not hold, fuckface.


Anonymous (November 21, 2004)

dear cynics,

this band is about the greatest thing i have seen musically in a long, long time. their message is complex, yet very, very simple. their music follows this same nature. buy this, see them, THEN form an opinion. knowing submission hold, they wouldnt label themselves anything, including "anarchists". they are just very articulate, to the point, and completely unpretentious. if you like classifying bands either musically or ideologically, you will hate this. don't worry, being confused is a good thing sometimes, kids.

Anonymous (November 21, 2004)

I have to take their philosophy and devotion as suspect...

But mostly, I just take it for what it is. If they honestly think anarchy is about living in the city and buying records and playing shows, and reading all about anarchy, more power to them.

I just think that's really naive and short-sighted. Unless these fucks run their own commune, in which case, why couldn't they just all pitch in and start their own label?


FortyMinutesWest (November 21, 2004)

Real bands don't have album or songs or instruments.

boldredletters (November 21, 2004)

I believe G7 is a committee set up. I don't think that's against anarchist beliefs. Plus, chumbawumba lived the anarchist lifestlye for a long time and put out records through friends' labels before the whole major thing, but that's another discussion in itself..

Anonymous (November 20, 2004)

If they were serious Anarchists, they wouldn't record in studios and have their own label.


Anonymous (November 20, 2004)

Great review.

FortyMinutesWest (November 20, 2004)

This band is brilliant, they can pretty much do no wrong.

boldredletters (November 19, 2004)

personally, i'm going to wait to hear what bsd has to say before forming an opinion.

Anonymous (November 19, 2004)

Does this band sound like the Routineers? (Amanda MacKaye's band)

crossfiyaaa (November 19, 2004)

I volunteered at a Submission Hold show here in Seattle last week, and the two bands I instantly thought of were the Ex and a female Fugazi. Good job reading my mind.

They were really good.

Anonymous (November 19, 2004)

Those mp3s were damn good. I'll order this from G7 in the coming minutes.


moldy (November 19, 2004)

i really liked the mp3s that were posted im really thinking of ordering this

Anonymous (November 19, 2004)

Scores for the review. Very well thought out and the band does sound a lot like fugazi (imagine Ian as a girl)

fistchode (November 19, 2004)

I've been thinking about ordering this album.. I think I just may do it after reading that review!

I'm thinking of also getting pacifism as pathology and direct action.

score is meaningless, as I haven't heard it yet, I'll go to hear the mp3s on g7 post-haste

Exclusive Streams


Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Managing Editor

Adam White

Contributing Editors

Kira Wisniewski Brittany Strummer Armando Olivas John Flynn Chris Moran John Gentile Mark Little

Copy Editor

Adam Eisenberg Britt Reiser

Podcast Producer

Greg Simpson


Aubin Paul

ISSN 1710-5366

© Copyright 1999-2013 Punknews.org

Terms of Use Privacy Policy Contact Us About Punknews.org

Other Places to Go