When Holy Sons’ Decline of the West was first released a decade ago, it was in the limited physical form of either an Italian import CD or as one of only 300 vinyl copies pressed up by a tiny Atlanta label. Now Holy Sons’ best-known, most sought-after and beloved release is being reissued by Partisan Records as a double LP that includes all of the bonus tracks from the 2008 expanded edition plus seven “new” songs from the original album sessions that have never been released prior.
Inspired by and named after Oswald Spengler’s darkly pessimistic prediction of the downfall and disintegration of Western culture, the collection incorporates elements of free jazz, hardcore punk, folk, sampling, Jamaican dub mixing techniques and an apocalyptic lyrical message. It was recorded in Amos’ home studio in Portland over the course of three years, during which the material was picked apart, re-mixed and re-edited, as Amos recalls “to unseat a lot of the tired/old ideas behind how a ‘singer-songwriter’ record is supposed to sound.”
Credit: Eliza Sohn
Amos has said of his distinctive music:
“Holy Sons is about facing your personal reality. You can’t wear it, it’s not cool, so it’s not a commodity in this culture. I don’t think it’s built to succeed in any way.”
Let the listener decide. Here’s Amos’ gorgeous cover of Spirit’s “Nature’s Way” from their 1972 album Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus that is included on the new expanded edition of Decline of the West. There are also covers of Billy Joe Royal’s “Down in the Boondocks” and a Circle Jerks song:
Bonus, Spirit guitarist Randy California’s entertaining 1995 music video for “Nature’s Way.” Although the imagery here points to the environment, the actual subject matter of the song’s sad lyrics is a philosophical meditation on the subject of a miscarriage.