Noun - Holy Hell (Cover Artwork)


Holy Hell (2010)

Don Giovanni

Noun is the "solo" project of Marissa Paternoster from Screaming Females, recorded with the help of many friends including the other Screaming Females members. This is Marissa's second release under the moniker. For those of you unfamiliar with her band, get educated. That said, this is not a Screaming Females record, and it is quite obvious why the two are kept distinct. For one thing, there is no "screaming" (in the most extreme sense).

Holy Hell is a rock album. It is slower and more measured than Screaming Females releases. Marissa had already established herself as a brutal guitarist and brilliant vocalist. She puts those skills to good use on this record, but what she shows here is that she is a master of creating sounds. Each song has a new and interesting sound and vibe to it, and despite the variation on it, the album contains no bad songs.

The album opens with "Black Lamb," a piano ballad and one of the slowest songs on the album. Just as you are lulled into relaxation, the album continues with "Outerspace," a distortion-packed blast with only a few seconds of buzzing to warn you of the impending tempo change. Expect more of this schizophrenic content from the album.

While every song is excellent, this is not a pop album. It is much more likely to induce thought and emotion than robotic mental repetition. One exception, interestingly, is the title track. "Holy Hell" is one of two unbelievably catchy songs that will surely be stuck in your head for weeks. While much of the album slowly grows on you, you are pretty much hooked on the title track upon first hearing the crashing crescendo of a chorus, and you will probably have to listen to it 10 or 15 times in rapid succession to get it out of your head. "Pearly Gates," the next-most-catchy song on the album, is less poppy but no less addictive. It pairs a fuzzy, decaying vocal effect with Marissa's patented crunchy, bluesy guitar to perfect effect. Both of these songs are among the very best songs released by any artist this year.

The album closes with three excellent, slower songs. A standout, "Brother" showcases some of Marissa's best, most soaring vocal stylings ever recorded. The relaxed instrumentation, paired with Marissa's powerful, reverberating voice will probably ruin you. And you will love it.

In summary: This is not a Screaming Females record, but it is still awesome.