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Hollow - Tower

by Mark Machlay at 28 December 2021, 6:45 AM

Just 3 years after the previous release, Swedish power prog metal band HOLLOW have released their 4th full-length album “Tower” at the end of November of this year. HOLLOW has had quite a history, beginning in the early 90s when the members met in the university town of Umeå. Vocalist and guitarist Andreas Stolz and bassist Thomas Nilsson decided to start a band when they were in the military after serving in the same platoon, originally forming under the name VALKYRIAN but soon switched to HOLLOW as it reflected “the constant void within, which we all feel from time to time”. Taking influences from QUEENSRYCHE, CRIMSON GLORY, and ELEGY, they released a 6-song demo titled “Speak to Me” in 1995 followed by a self-titled 4-track EP in 1997. The latter caught the attention of small, independent label MM Records. They then went on to create two full-length albums both released through Nuclear Blast Records, “Modern Cathedral” in 1997 and “Architect of the Mind” in 1999.

Unfortunately, HOLLOW as a group effort would break up shortly after their second record. However, Andrea Stoltz revived the name as a solo project in 2009 when he released the song “Descending”, written in memory of Midnight, CRIMSON GLORY’s vocalist who died that year. As another boost to the band’s popularity, Polish record label Metal Mind Productions would remaster and rerelease both “Modern Cathedral” and “Architect of the Mind” in 2010. It would be nearly a decade before another release would arise, but it came in the form of the full-length “Between Eternities of Darkness” released through Italian label Rockshot Records. The album told a dark and tragic tale of a small family and their journey into tragedy. While the personnel listed included a few guest/session musicians, suspiciously, a second main member listed as Staldor Zantos on drums may actually just be an anagram for Andreas Stoltz. Now, three year later, HOLLOW returns with a more optimistic record, or as Stoltz puts it, “I wanted to write a record that was a bit more uplifting than the previous one and it all fell into place when I realized that “Tower” (the album) was going to be a kind of fantasy story. But also about inner change. In a sense, we’re all trapped in our towers, i.e. our minds. The song “Tower” started the writing process of the whole album.”

HOLLOW being around for as long as they have been, they were often compared with other Swedish Power Metal bands of the 90’s MORGANA LEFAY and TAD MOROSE but were never got the same amount of cult attention. The production on “Tower” seems to still be stuck in those mid-90s as well, ultimately sounding very harsh in the mid and high range and at other times sounding a bit thin. As for the pieces themselves, since there isn’t a lot of variety in the length of songs – all of them being 3 minutes and change – any personal identity between tracks is hard to discern. But the opening track is quite an epic opener, swapping back and forth between an almost renaissance style clean guitar lick and epic, slow, distorted power chords all with Stolz nasally, yet versatile vocals makes for a powerful introduction to the album. Then the title track “The Tower” gets a bit a dirtier with some double bass and equally building and lifting guitar leads. “Destroyer of Worlds” speeds it up, adding thrash and death metal influences with a suitably awesome chorus featuring an exceptional use of vocal overdubbing and some catchy, ear-candy worthy guitar and melodic hooks. Even “A Home Forgotten” features the most progressive elements, bouncing around a multitude of feels and sounds in such a small run time. But by the time “Wander On” – the final track of the album – kicked in, I felt I had heard the classic heavy metal tropes a bit too much and couldn’t really identify individual tracks too easily. If you want progressive sounding classic power metal in shorter doses, you may enjoy “Tower” but I prefer a bit more exploration and length to my progressive music.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 6
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Birth
2. The Tower
3. Guardian
4. The Waiting is Over
5. Destroyer of Worlds
6. Every Drop of my Blood
7. Sunrise
8. A Home Forgotten
9. Nation of Man
10. Wander On
Andreas Stoltz – All Instruments
Record Label: Rockshots Records


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