Here’s once again an album I have problem reviewing.
The music doesn’t do much for me.
I listen to it, and for the most part, I am simply not moved or engaged.
But I can recognize it is quality music into which a lot of thought, time and effort went into making. I can also tell that other people will love this.
So, what do I do?
Do I write about how each time I listened to the album, it sounded all too similar to me with little variation between the songs? Or do I write about how I think this album would sound to others? Or do I just write drily about what the music sounds like? Do all of the above?
I’m not sure let’s see together…Poised on the border between rock and metal, American Hollow makes heavy spacey and emotional music. Whisper Campaign is their first full-length, released in 2010.
Their tunes are balanced the more volumetric side and the more aggressive and straight-in-your-face punches of guitar riffs with mid-to-high range pitched vocals and a clear production. Moreover, the musicianship is accomplished and in particular I appreciate the delicate and efficient bass work (and the fact that it’s heard clearly). The music they write has its intricacies and depth and at times a melodic hook; it is powerful and emotional music that does bear its full weight on you as you listen (a good thing, in case you wondered).
One of the songs I liked on the album was Illumineye, where they play a well-mixed blend of their spacey and heavy approaches. This is a song where the theme is a catchy one, demands attention and is well developed. Prizards is another such well-done song and quite lengthy (at over 13 minutes) and one that shows well the range of vocalist’s Jameson’s voice.
With that said, I felt that they linger on too much with themes without much development or making use of other tools at their disposal to make matters interesting to the listener (such as in Gravity, Constant or the opener Terranoia). I also found that for the most part there are no hooks in the song to hold my interest.
I feel that if you’re going to write music with a lot of “room” in it, music that has spacey qualities, you need to fill it with something more than just to continue playing the same thing over; for instance with a solo, an additional instrument, an additional musical line, an effect, a change in tempo or motif, etc. But that is absent, even in a song I liked here such as Prizards, where the middle section does linger on without much happening; it could have been made into something much more compelling in my opinion.
Take for example the song, Blow Wind!, Bring Forth Storm; this is a faster paced song, aggressive and with catchy verse and chorus. This song also shows a balance between quick and slower pace, and also provides more than one alternative to the main theme throughout the song. In other words, the band built a solid heavy rock/metal song, developed it and made it sound like a song that’s uniquely theirs. If you were to ask me what direction the band needs to take in the future, this song would represent it. In here you can hear the basic style you heard in the other songs, as well as their creativity and sense of experimentation.
To go back to my dilemma in the beginning of how to write this review, I hope I’ve been fair to both myself as well as to the potential fans of this album and band. I can hear much enthusiasm and talent in this band (in both musicianship and song-writing). But in the end one can’t love all, and while their music doesn’t “click” with me, it’s certainly worthy of being heard, so do take the time to listen to their album (it’s streaming on their website) and judge for yourself.
Official Website (Stream their album)
Buy at CD Baby
Buy at iTunes