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Hollinghead – Stay Dead

Stay Dead
by Gary Hernandez at 05 January 2021, 2:02 AM

HOLLINGSHEAD is a recently formed Prog Metal band out of Sweden. The foursome is made up of an all-star lineup with pedigrees including bands such as CANDLEMAS, TAIMAT (live), and THERION. The band’s name comes from one of the villains in the 1947 film version of “The Secret Life Walter Mitty,” namely Dr. Hugo Hollingshead played by Boris Karloff. On December 4, 2020, the band released their debut full-length album, “Stay Dead.”

The album comprises eight tracks and clocks out at fifty-three minutes. For a Prog album it’s less complex than a lot of its peer set, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The shortest track is a little over five minutes, but the longest track just breaks the eight minutes mark. That doesn’t say anything about the quality of the music but maybe gives you an indication of where the band falls on the Prog spectrum, with “The Whirlwind” (77:54) by TRANSATLANTIC being at one end and people with a pulse being on the other end.

Thematically, “Stay Dead” has a dark, gothic vibe. The Hammond organ contributes a lot to this, but there is also a down-tuned feel to the album. Titles such as “And While Waiting For The Sky To Open,” “Stay Dead,” and “Burn With Me” add to the effect. Couple that with cover art that depicts a bleeding-eyed, shrouded figure standing in a batch of red foliage that looks all the world like fire . . . yeah, dark and gothic captures it.

Standout tracks are “And While Waiting For The Sky To Open,” “Stay Dead,” “The Valley.” Even though the band members have loads of experience, I think they’re still getting acclimated to each other and with this particular lineup. While the tracks are all good, they aren’t necessarily memorable or compelling. I didn’t find myself hitting the repeat button or being haunted by any of the tunes.

All together I found “Stay Dead” on the underwhelming side. It suffers from the vaulted expectations that come with a lineup with significant backgrounds. We somehow assume the best of their past will somehow coalesce into the most impressive album in the present. Would my take on the album would be different if it were the debut from a bunch of people no one ever heard of? Not sure. With that said, I’d be interested in hearing what comes next and seeing which direction they head. It’s hard to map trajectory of a band based on one data point.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 6
Memorability: 5
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

  1. And While Waiting For The Sky To Open
  2. Lights
  3. Through The Doors Of Time (Dreams Of The Indie Khaleef)
  4. Stay Dead
  5. Wish I Was A Criminal
  6. The Valley
  7. Burn With Me
  8. The Traveler's Prayer
Johan Niemann – Bass
Fredrik Haake – Drums
Carl Westholm – Piano, organ
Gidon Tannenbaum – Vocals
Record Label: GMR Music Group


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Edited 06 December 2022

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