Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Review: Hollow - Mordrake

I had the pleasure of meeting the talented members of Hollow at Hellfest Lanaudière in 2012, and I've kept in touch with several of them since. I remember initially being intrigued by the band due to their lavish on stage make-up, some of them even bearing full body designs. Their music never failed to captivate the audience and start a mosh pit with the few people with the balls enough to participate, and since that time their name has become one of the more well known among the catacombs of Montreal. With only one previously released EP in their coffin, Mordrake marks the band's debut LP.

Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Label: Self-released/independent
Release Date: May 30th, 2014
  1. Lament Configuration
  2. Cryptic Howling
  3. A New Life
  4. Landscape
  5. Iscariot
  6. Sunriser
  7. Vlad
  8. Anomie
  9. Snow
  10. Birth
  11. Hate
  12. Death
Total Playtime: 57 minutes, 18 seconds




Rating: 9.0/10




I had the pleasure of meeting the talented members of Hollow at Hellfest Lanaudière in 2012, and I've kept in touch with several of them since. I remember initially being intrigued by the band due to their lavish on stage make-up, some of them even bearing full body designs. Their music never failed to captivate the audience and start a mosh pit with the few people with the balls enough to participate, and since that time their name has become one of the more well known among the catacombs of Montreal. With only one previously released EP in their coffin, Mordrake marks the band's debut LP.

The material at hand is a mesh of greasy, chaotic black metal frenzies with tightly secured melodic infrastructures, all the while incorporating intricately woven synthetic orchestral compositions that provide a haunting atmosphere. The lavish keyboards are reminiscent of Castlevania, and are finely entangled with the guitar as the drums hammer away in the background with no remorse. These fusions stand out most notably in "Vlad", which is a spectacular piece of musician showmanship, in that it contains the most advanced orchestral and instrumental compositions of the album. To both offset and empower these delicacies, the vocalist chooses an assortment of powerful growls and harmonious clean singing when appropriate, like in "Iscariot" where his melodious voice compliments a ravenous piano bridge.


Pinch harmonics and squealies are scattered around the material and find themselves landing in all of the right places as they recall the attention of the listener when and if the attention span begins to drift. The solos are generally quick, intense snippets of furious scales with hammer-ons and pull-offs, though from time to time the guitarist slows his pace down to a melodic level to allow for more relaxed leads; such as in "Snow", a track that's somewhat similar to the Iced Earth epic "Dante's Inferno". The galloping palm-muted riffs and tremolos during rhythm sections often becomes lost among the drums and bass, unfortunately it's distortion fails to cause much of a difference in this matter. However, in many places where the drums and bass are soft, this element stands out with memorable strum patterns. To add variety to the churning distorted guitar, there are sparse inclusions of acoustics that add to the somewhat gothic aura of the content.

Tight, fluid and consistently changing, the drumming is an accomplishment all on it's own; being comprised of a multitude of beats, tempos and rhythms, including gallops, triplets, tribal, blast beats and everything in between. As mentioned previously, the drums themselves can come off a little overbearing at times since they have a habit of consuming the guitar rhythms, however the element is more than worth it's given spotlight. The second most prominent instrument of the album is the bass, which sits at a perfectly audible level for almost the entire duration of the material. It's often heard thumping out fast, semi-technical lines that almost carry some songs on it's own; the best example being "Cryptic Howling".

Hollow have made an impressive debut effort with Mordrake, which is far grittier and less melodic than their EP, Cynoptic Eschaton. The atmospheric synthesizers, outstanding bass lines, evolved drumming and diversified leads are the key factors to the material, along with the memorable lyrics. Moreover, it's incredibly refreshing to hear some newer, non-raw black metal that can stand on it's own without the overuse of tremolo picking and blast beats. Few things need improvement, and mostly involve mixing and production; such as how high the drums are mixed and the fact that the snare sounds a little compressed at times. Those things are just minimal nit-picks, however, and should not deter any black metal enthusiast from checking out this solid, highly enjoyable title.

Physical Copy Provided by: Hollow

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