Hollow - Modern Cathedral


Year of Release: 1997
Label: Nuclear Blast USA
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:45:00

I am not a big advocate of the theory that a "disc has to grow on you" after a few listens. I've always been a disciple of the "big bang" theory that when you hit the play button, magical things start to happen. Well, I am starting to learn slowly but surely that some discs can grow on you, and Hollow's Modern Cathedral is one of those discs. I am not sure if it was the lack of keyboards or the unique tone of the singer that left me wondering whether or not I would like this band, but as of now I can safely say that I am glad that I gave this disc a chance. It's another release from Nuclear Blast, which seems to be putting out some good material as of late. If I am not mistaken, the band comes from Sweden, home to a ton of power, prog, and melodic metal bands.

THE STYLE:

Basically, the music can be classified as melodic, power metal. While not on the severely heavy side, the disc has its moments of glory in the crunch dept. I've seen the disc touted as power / prog metal, but the moments of progression in a musical sense are few. The songs are structured more in a straight ahead fashion and they are quite easy to follow. What the band lacks in the progressive dept, they make up for in the melodic dept. Try to imagine what Conception would sound like a bit toned down and barely progressive. I've seen comparisons to Queensryche as well, but personally I don't hear a trace of that band in this music except maybe in the twin guitar sound that this band has. Other than that, the closest band I can think of that remotely resembles this band is Conception without keyboards. The guitar sound has that nice crunch that the Conception guitarist has at times, and some of the song structures sound like they are right out of a Conception disc mixed in with Hollow's own style. Anyone who is into Conception is most likely to like this band I would guess. There are 12 songs on the disc, and they average in at about 3:50 each, quite short for a band of this style. The longest song on the disc is 4:53, and I found myself wanting more with each ending of the songs. Bands with musical talent such as Hollow should be able to come up with more minutes per song than this, however it's hard to complain about this when just about every song is as catchy as the next. The band relies on the guitar sound to create its warm melodies, and a good job they do with this. The songs are accessible, and each has it's own identity and the disc does not become repetetive because of this. I can't tell from the CD insert, but I am guessing that there is only one guitarist in this band, and with the twin sound on some songs, you'd swear that there were two in the band. Again, Conception had this effect as well.

THE BAND:

Unless I am missing the section in the CD insert with the band lineup, there is none. I've been through the insert several times and although the fonts are very difficult to read because they pretty much are the colors in the background, I can't find any band information. From the "thank you" section, it appears that there are 4 members in this band, and it's anyone guess as to what the complement is. It could be guitar, bass, drums, vocals, or there could be 2 guitarists and someone is doing double duties in the vocal dept. My personal guess, and I have no basis for this except instinct, is that there are 2 guitarists and someone is doubling as the vocalist [editorial research uncovered the lineup listed below -ed]. Either way, they achieve a nice, crunchy guitar sound. There aren't too many solos on the disc, as the songs are too short to accompany the time needed for the solos. Instead, the band concentrates on playing the song, and then going on to the next one. The songs are pretty standard melody, chorus, short solo, melody and then on to the end of the song, which sometimes can end abruptly and unexpectedly. An interesting approach to song structure, especially for a metal band. The bass and drums pound out standard metal lines, mostly accessible and easy to keep time with. No fancy drumming, no double bass runs, not much in the way of showcase here, just bringing the songs to the listener in a no-nonsense manner.

THE VOCALS:

I am a sucker for unique sounding singers, and this one is no exception. However, his tone may be a turn off for some who aren't used to or don't like this tonal quality in singers. As far as I can tell, (and I don't know his name), this singer sounds a lot like a version of Tom Malicoat (Lethal) minus the higher range of Malicoat. If you can imagine what Malicoat sounds like in a lower tone, then you have a good idea if what this singer sounds like. In addition, he has a very unique tone to his voice that either draws you in to what he is doing, or turns you away depending on your taste. The Malicoat sound is there, but in a lower tonal range this might not have the desired effect. Personally, this guy's voice fits the music very well, and his voice is unique enough to keep me listening every time with no problem at all. With some singers that have these unique tones, it is easy for them to at least make you squint on a song or two, but this one keeps it in a range that is very pleasing to the ear, and I find myself wondering what this guy would sound like at a higher range.

THE PRODUCTION:

At first listen, (and this is no pun), I thought that the sound was a bit "hollow," but I realize that now it's the gap that the keyboards would have filled out had there been some. After a dozen listens, I understand now why they don't need keyboards, but I have to admit, with some epic-sounding keyboards and longer songs, this band would have been propelled to near the top of my heap of favorites. The recording is very well done, nothing spectacular, but I can't find anything to complain about either. It has the similar sound that many metal discs have, and if I HAD to find fault with anything, I'd say beef up the guitar sound. That's about it. Everything else is pretty well mixed here, and all of the instruments can be heard without any problem whatsoever. The band is credited with co-producing the disc, and they did a good job. The drums have a "natural" sound to them, almost like a dull thud, and maybe this could have been cleaned up a bit as well, but these small complaints are just the result of having to find something wrong with this sound. Overall, it is well recorded, especially the vocals, in which every word being sung can be heard clearly.

THE COMMENTS:

I was expecting a power / prog metal band. What I got was a melodic / power metal band. The disc had to grow on me a bit maybe because of this expectation, and in the end I am glad that I gave it a chance because I am getting a lot of enjoyment out of this disc. As I write this, I am now reminded of a band that had a similar production style to Hollow. Awhile back, there was a band called Masquerade. If memory serves correct, they were from Sweden as well, and they made a disc called Surface Of Pain? If you own this disc, and listen to the sound, then you have a great idea of what the Hollow production sounds like. If you are browsing the catalogs in search of some metal discs, this would be a good choice. Don't look for any real headbanging, air guitar playing, or any virtuoso-styled songs. However, you will get some catchy, melodic songs with an interesting singer bringing them to you.


Tracklisting:
Trademark / Can You Hear Me / Speak To Me / Bagatell 3 / Crusaders / Lies / Wounds / In Your Arms / Whispers / Hold Your Banners High / What I Can Be / Waiting

Musicians:
Andreas Stoltz - vocals and guitars
Marcus Bigren - guitars
Thomas Nilsson - bass
Urban Wikstr?m - drums

Discography:
Hollow (1997)
Modern Cathedral (1998)
Architects of Mind (1999)

Genre: Melodic Metal

Origin SE

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: moderncathedral.blogspot.com
Hits: 766
Language: english

  

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