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American Hollow - 2010 - "Whisper Campaign"

(61:51, 'AH')


****+
                 
TRACK LIST:

1.  Terronoia 4:55
2.  State of Decay 4:50
3.  Operator 3:28
4.  Variable 5:58
5.  Constant 4:26
6.  Gravity 6:15
7.  Illumineye 7:12
8.  Prizards 13:06
9.  Blow Wind Bring Forth Storm 7:33
10. Terrannoyed 4:08

LINEUP:

Nathan Alan Gilbert  bass; keyboards
Kyle Mullikin  guitars 
Garry Garrett  drums 
Jimmy Holman  vocals 
With:
Gregg Hale  guitars 

Prolusion. The US outfit AMERICAN HOLLOW can trace its roots back to 2001, but the band as it is currently constituted crystallized sometimes around 2008. "Whisper Campaign" is their debut album, and was self-released in 2010.

Analysis. For every band that releases more than one album, you will always find numerous outfits that only make it to their initial effort prior to breaking up. For a number of different reasons, presumably, where lack of success and attention probably rates high on the scale, alongside personal differences and what I suspect is the killer of many bands: lack of good ideas, especially if combined with the former two. While I don't know this band and as such can't say anything about the first two prospects, I'm pretty sure that these guys won't fall victim to the last any time soon. And hopefully they might even be among the relatively few bands that manage to produce many albums prior to breaking up. The reason for this isn't because this is a magnificent initial production however. It is a decent one, though, and one that does promise well for the future, but not due to the opening parts of this disc, where the curious instrumental which is the first creation out struggles to leave an impression. Gentle wandering guitars, backed by steady military beats where the intensity builds up slowly over three minutes, is something the select few will enjoy I suspect, and even the guitar and keyboard fragments that grow in alongside the increasingly dark and bombastic drumbeats does offer a bit of earcandy. This exercise is repeated at the very end, with an even longer track that takes it all in reverse order, opening intensely and ending on a gentle, fragile note. But these two items do give this production an identity, which for a new band is most likely a positive asset overall. In between the prolog and epilog we're treated to 54 minutes of music spread over 8 tracks, where the first half or so isn't all that interesting, really. Pleasant material by all means, pairing off gentle verse parts sporting clean guitar licks, supporting the powerful voice of Jimmy Holman quite nicely. While richly-textured guitar riffs are applied to the chorus, adding a dark vibe and intensity. Well-made and well-performed, but not managing to make a grand impression as such. Neither do the opening parts of Illumineye actually, as the first minute or so of this creation sounds like a lost relic from Nirvana's back catalog. But from then on until second to last tune Blow Wind Bring Forth Storm ebbs out we're treated to music of a much more enticing manner: slower riffs that testify to a band familiar with their Black Sabbath and stoner rock, occasionally touching upon something of a grunge-oriented sound too. But more intriguing is the choice to blend these with quirkier, energetic riff constructions in a manner not too far from a band like Tool. At best these blend excellently, in particular on the few occasions where slow, menacing, fluctuating synth patterns are applied too. Like some menace from space hovering over the proceedings, an effective detail that works brilliantly because it isn't applied too often. Same goes for some nifty psychedelic guitar details that pop up occasionally, as well as the distinctly dirty and grimy distorted guitar sound used on the aforementioned Blow Wind Bring Forth Storm. To my ears many themes are explored just a tad too long on this album as a whole though, and the first half isn't too inspiring if you're the kind of listener who enjoys material of the more challenging kind. There are plenty of good ideas to be heard though, many of which most likely can and will be developed and expanded for a second outing.

Conclusion. The first half of the debut album "Whisper Campaign" by American Hollow bears witness to a band providing good quality progressive metal with a distinct mainstream orientation. The second half the recording is more adventurous and innovative, with an overall sound somewhere in between grunge and alternative metal but set in a progressive framework, with quite a number of nifty details applied to enliven the arrangements, well- performed and -produced, and with a good and strong lead vocalist to boot. And while this disc may not be a gold nugget to be found amidst plenty of granite, it should be a rewarding experience for those who find the notion of grunge, alternative metal and progressive metal mixed to be intriguing.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: September 2, 2011
The Rating Room


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American Hollow


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