Hollow -Tower (Rockshots Records)

Friday, 3rd December 2021
Rating: 8/10

Delving into the world of inner and outer freedom, belonging and transcendence, Tower is the fourth album from Hollow – the Swedish power/progressive metal act lead by Andreas Stoltz. Originally a part of the Nuclear Blast roster during the late 1990’s, the first two releases gained a cult-like appeal over the years. Returning in 2018 with Between Eternities of Darkness, the comeback saw Andreas go in a bit more of a straightforward, heavier and doomier direction while giving the listener hints of the past catalog. Curiosity reigns as to where the band goes next – once again with Andreas handling all the vocals and instrumentation while recruiting Stalder Zantos for the drums.

The opener “Birth” sets off the record in dynamic fashion – the acoustic guitar/bass interplay and soulful verse register gives chase to a cultural electric movement, Stalder adding in progressive shuffles while the emotive lead break heightens anticipation for the hypnotic background voices. As the ten songs unfold, elements of the past come to the forefront – be it the driving, stairstep riffs against the majestic vocal harmonies during “The Tower”, or Judas Priest meets Queensrÿche darker power chords and optimistic soaring chorus for “Sunrise” that includes some thrash and mid-tempo groove shifts. Keeping the songs all in a radio accessible under four minutes platform allows the listener to absorb the information comfortably, drilling into the essence of the melodies, hooks, and harmonies without going off on unnecessary tangents. Andreas’ knowledge and abilities at all facets of instrumentation, vocals, and production surface in the shades of light illustrated track to track – channeling quieter, more melancholy shifts into driving passages where “The Waiting Is Over” becomes a standout, squeezing out the right emotional magnitude on trailing notes up to the upper register harmonies. The triplet gallops against the progressive double kick/snare hits on closer “Wander On” keep the metal ship on course, recalling the greatness of Candlemass, Tad Morose, and a bit of 90’s Coroner.

A proper follow-up to their last record, Tower inches closer to the debut Modern Cathedral in terms of mixing up the dynamics of power, progressive and doom/traditional metal and could gain a new generation of followers beyond the old guard.

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