Artist: Hollow

Album Title: Tower

Label: Rockshots Records

Date of Release: 26 November 2021

It’s great to be reminded every now and again why, in and amongst the ‘big hitters’, I like to champion those bands that struggle a little more with column inches despite being fully deserving of exposure. One of those bands is Hollow, and I’m delighted to report that the band are back with a great new album, simply titled ‘Tower’. Continuing where they left off with ‘Between Eternities Of Darkness’, the first record following a twenty-year hiatus, ‘Tower’ offers us another slice of classic/power metal with a slight progressive edge. Listen up Queensryche and Crimson Glory fans, this one could be for you. That’s not to say that Hollow are carbon copies, because they’re not; these are just ball-park reference points, of which there are many, should you need them.

The driving force behind Hollow is, as always, Andreas Stoltz who plays the guitar and sings. He is once again joined by drummer Stalder Zantos, so the duo remains unchanged from the last record. And it definitely shows, because if you liked ‘Between Eternities Of Darkness’, you are certain to enjoy ‘Tower’, possibly even more so. I do.

In the press release, Stoltz references the fact that ‘Tower’ is generally a more positive and less dark affair than ‘Between Eternities Of Darkness’, commenting “…this one is more uplifting. HOLLOW’s ‘Tower’ emphasizes the possibility of change and of growth, but also each person’s responsibility to make the better choice. These are times when this is more important than ever.”

This positivity can be heard at points within ‘Tower’, but don’t worry, because this isn’t all sunbeams and flowers – much of the material still casts a shadow. You still get some hefty riffing, intelligent leads, plenty of powerful rhythms, laid down with care and precision by Zantos. The bass guitar dances in classic prog exuberance but is happy to play a supporting role when required. Hollow also make good, intelligent use of light and shade, as well as melody, grooves, and strong choruses to guarantee repeated listens.

Given that the approach to the songwriting and the eventual output remains on a steady course, the music will certainly be familiar to those who know of the band. It means, also, that I have the very same small misgivings about ‘Tower’ as I did back around the turn of the Millennium with 1999’s ‘Architects Of The Mind’ and in 2019 with ‘Between Eternities Of Darkness’. It means that I find the production a little lacking once again; I have always found the final product to be a little harsh and treble friendly. Admittedly, this is the best that Hollow have ever sounded, but occasionally the music feels a bit thin and I’d still welcome a little more smoothness overall, if I’m being critical. And Stoltz’s voice remains something of an acquired taste. He has an interesting delivery, choosing unusual notes, lots of vibrato, and his pitch is quite high. I’ve grown to rather like it, but I’m not sure that’ll be the reaction of all who listen.

As for the songs themselves, there are many high points within the ten on offer on ‘Tower’. The opening song is a largely acoustic affair, where delicate notes duet with Stoltz’s voice. It’s a sombre sounding beginning, except for the burst of heaviness and the lyrics that talk of being ‘brighter, darker, stronger than before’. If that’s not a positive message first up, then I don’t know what is.

After this more sedate beginning, the vast majority of the material benefits from having the guitars at their heart. From driving riffs, to clever embellishments, the six-string of Stoltz is the key to the music. Be it a more thrash-like workout like ‘Guardian’ or the faster-paced death/thrash overtones of ‘Destroyer Of Worlds’, the aggression is always tempered by a surprisingly catchy and memorable chorus or central hook. They might not show their full strength at the outset, but believe me, they flex their muscles as time goes on and thy are ready to make their mark. ‘Destroyer Of Worlds’ for example, has a great chorus.

Mind you, ‘Every Drop Of My Blood’ is even better. The lead guitar work is really nice at the outset, the ensuing power metal riff in the verse is great, and the subsequent chorus is one of my very favourites. It is moody, but incredibly striking, as it contains an irresistible hook, paired with some passionate vocals. It’s a similar story with ‘Sunrise’ too, which is more of a ballad in construction, but unleashes a really strong chorus to counterpoint the moments of darker introspection, as well as the slightly unexpected thrash workout in the latter stages.

For depth, poignancy, and some really subtle songwriting, ‘A Home Forgotten’ is a no-brainer. It also demonstrates more openly those progressive ingredients within the Hollow sound as it bounces around and plays gleefully with a number of different ideas in such a short space of time. However, not for the first time of late, one of the strongest moments on ‘Tower’ arrives at the death. ‘Wander On’ kicks off in standard, classic metal-meets-thrash style, before the most epic and satisfying chorus hits. It’s relatively simple, but delivered perfectly, ensuring that ‘Tower’ ends on a massive high.

I sincerely hope that I have done enough to convince some of you to give Hollow a try, because they definitely deserve a much bigger audience. There’s often little rhyme or reason why one band makes it and another doesn’t, and I see absolutely no reason why Hollow couldn’t build on the momentum of the last couple of years, and use ‘Tower’ as their latest catalyst to take the next step. Give Hollow a try and maybe you’ll be converted to their classic power/prog cause too.  

The Score of Much Metal: 85%

Dessiderium – Aria

Cynic – Ascension Codes

TDW – Fountains

Hypocrisy – Worship

W.E.B. – Colosseum

Navian – Cosmos

NorthTale – Eternal Flame

Obscura – A Valediction

Nightland – The Great Nothing

MØL – Diorama

Be’lakor – Coherence

Hollow – Tower

Doedsvangr – Serpents Ov Old

Athemon – Athemon

Eclipse – Wired

Swallow The Sun – Moonflowers

Dream Theater – A View From The Top Of The World

Nestor – Kids In A Ghost Town

Beast In Black – Dark Connection

Thulcandra – A Dying Wish

Omnium Gatherum – Origin

Insomnium – Argent Moon EP

Kryptan – Kryptan EP

Archspire – Bleed The Future

Awake By Design – Unfaded EP

Cradle Of Filth – Existence Is Futile

Seven Spires – Gods Of Debauchery

Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb

Necrofier – Prophecies Of Eternal Darkness

Ex Deo – The Thirteen Years Of Nero

Carcass – Torn Arteries

Aeon Zen – Transversal

Enslaved – Caravans To The Outer Worlds

A Dying Planet – When The Skies Are Grey

Leprous – Aphelion

Night Crowned – Hädanfärd

Brainstorm – Wall Of Skulls

At The Gates – The Nightmare Of Being

Rivers Of Nihil – The Work

Fractal Universe – The Impassable Horizon

Darkthrone – Eternal Hails

Thy Catafalque – Vadak

Terra Odium – Ne Plus Ultra

Hiraes – Solitary

Eye Of Purgatory – The Lighthouse

Crowne – Kings In The North

Desaster – Churches Without Saints

Helloween – Helloween

Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum

Wooden Veins – In Finitude

Plaguestorm – Purifying Fire

Drift Into Black – Patterns Of Light

Alluvial – Sarcoma

White Moth Black Butterfly – The Cost Of Dreaming – Album Review

Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen

Bloodbound – Creatures From The Dark Realm

Nahaya – Vital Alchemy

Frost* – Day And Age

Obsolete Theory – Downfall

Vola – Witness

Acolyte – Entropy

Dordeduh – Har

Subterranean Masquerade – Mountain Fever

Seth – La Morsure Du Christ

The Circle – Metamorphosis

Nordjevel – Fenriir

Vreid – Wild North West

Temtris – Ritual Warfare

Astrakhan – A Slow Ride Towards Death

Akiavel – Vae Victis

Gojira – Fortitude

Hideous Divinity – LV-426

Benthos – II

Evile – Hell Unleashed

Ninkharsag – The Dread March Of Solemn Gods

Bodom After Midnight – Paint The Sky With Blood

Morrigu – In Turbulence

Mother Of All – Age Of The Solipsist

Throne – Pestilent Dawn

Sweet Oblivion (Geoff Tate) – Relentless

Exanimis – Marionnettiste

Dvne – Etemen Ænka

Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

Arion – Vultures Die Alone

Maestitium – Tale Of The Endless

Wode – Burn In Many Mirrors

Everdawn – Cleopatra

Unflesh – Inhumation

Mourning Dawn – Dead End Euphoria

Wheel – Resident Human

Wythersake – Antiquity

Odd Dimension – The Blue Dawn

Metalite – A Virtual World

Cryptosis – Bionic Swarm

Ghosts Of Atlantis –

Memoriam – To The End

Aversed – Impermanent

Secret Sphere – Lifeblood

Enforced – Kill Grid

Liquid Tension Experiment – LTE3

Turbulence – Frontal

Iotunn – Access All Worlds

Warrior Path – The Mad King

Stortregn – Impermanence

Mariana’s Rest – Fata Morgana

Orden Ogan – Final Days

Witherfall – Curse Of Autumn

Plague Weaver – Ascendant Blasphemy

Ephemerald – Between The Glimpses Of Hope

Paranorm – Empyrean

Einherjer – North Star

Epica – Omega

Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde

Simulacrum – Genesis

Forhist – Forhist

Evergrey – Escape Of The Phoenix

Empyrium – Über den Sternen

Moonspell – Hermitage

Infernalizer – The Ugly Truth

Temperance – Melodies Of Green And Blue EP

Malice Divine – Malice Divine

Revulsion – Revulsion

Demon King – The Final Tyranny EP

Dragony – Viribus Unitis

Soen – Imperial

Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida

Oceana – The Pattern

Therion – Leviathan

Tribulation – Where The Gloom Becomes Sound

Asphyx – Necroceros

W.E.T. – Retransmission

Labyrinth – Welcome To The Absurd Circus

TDW – The Days The Clock Stopped

Need – Norchestrion: A Song For The End

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews


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