Review & Full Album Premiere: Hollow Leg, Civilizations

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg civilizations

[Click play above to stream Hollow Leg’s Civilizations in its entirety. Album is out Jan. 25 on Argonauta Records.]

Hollow Leg‘s fourth album, Civilizations, brings the Floridian sludge-plus outfit past the 10-year mark since getting together in 2008, and as their first new release for Argonauta Records following a reissue of 2016’s Crown (review here) that combined it with the subsequent 2017 EP, Murder (review here), it brings their sound to previously-untouched levels of breadth. And the more one looks back over their four records, the clearer it becomes that’s been the case all along. Their 2010 debut, Instinct (discussed here), and its 2013 follow-up, Abysmal (review here), set a tone in raw sludge metal aggression, with a largesse of groove and the enviable roar of Scott Angelacos‘ growling vocals. But even then there was a progression happening from one to the next, and Civilizations is the furthest point yet along the line those early outings started.

It isn’t every band who can claim to still be moving forward a decade later, but Angelacos, guitarist/backing vocalist Brent Lynch, bassist Tom Crowther and drummer John Stewart (who came aboard for the last album), continue a process of becoming with Civilizations that finds them still holding to the nastiness of their roots but finding new footing as well on yet-uncovered ground in terms of arrangements, cleaner vocals, more melodic leads, and on the not-actually-an-intro “Intro,” a gong. All of this — even the gong — makes the nine-track/43-minute long-player unquestionably the most accomplished work of Hollow Leg‘s career, and listening to the Clutch-style patterning in “Akasha” and the chanting backups and floating guitar solo in the back end of the earlier “Dirt Womb,” the conscious intent to try new ways of composing and executing their material is made plain. They always have been and still are an aggressive band, in tone, rhythm and construction, but they’ve never sounded as dynamic as they do on Civilizations and even a piece like the relatively straightforward and suitably biting “Hunter and the Hunted” conveys the growth they’ve so confidently undertaken.

As to whether or not Civilizations marks how far Hollow Leg will go, it’s not a question that can be answered with any certainty until they put out something else, but there’s no doubt it’s the most realized work they’ve done, setting its terms quickly on the 7:11 opener “Litmus,” which begins with Stewart‘s drums beating a march soon joined by feedback and the foreboding central riff. Immediately the album wants to challenge its audience, and it does so by unfurling the first of its choice, rolling grooves that engages in a fashion somewhat contrary to the name they’ve given it. Angelacos‘ bellow arrives about two minutes in and is in fine form — raw of throat but able to evoke a notion of melody as he demands; a correct argument against those prejudiced to harsh vocal approaches — and as the band rolls fluidly through the midpoint of the track, the sense of patience is subtle but indicative of the build happening.

Stewart gets the cowbelling out of the way as “Litmus” works through its apex prior to echoing out on residual swirling noise, and “Dirt Womb” and “Mountains of Stone” pick up to complete a compelling opening salvo that presents much of what’s in store as the album continues, whether in the aforementioned airy solo of “Dirt Womb” — the band cite a Cave In influence, and one can hear it there — or the way in which “Mountains of Stone” moves through its verse and chorus structure en route to a hypnotic but quiet finish. That serves as a lead-in for the two-minute “Black Moon,” which pairs clean-sung lines directly with Lynch‘s open-sounding guitar, as well as percussion and an earthy psychedelia that, as just the shortest track on Civilizations, shows how much Hollow Leg have added to their reach throughout. As might be expected, it leads to the intense beginning of “Hunter and the Hunted,” but even the push there is affected by the atmosphere brought to bear in “Black Moon,” and the same holds true as side B of Civilizations takes hold.

Tracks are arranged longest-to-shortest leading into “Hunter and the Hunted,” and shortest-to-longest after, so its place is obviously no mistake, and in that way, the subsequent “Intro” may indeed be leading the way into the second half of Civilizations, but it’s still more substantial than tagging it an “intro” might convey. Rather, it seems a weighted complement to “Black Moon,” pushing the growled vocals deeper into the mix to make the guitar and bass sound all the more consuming, and while it doesn’t play through a complete verse-chorus structure, there’s still plenty going on as it shifts into “Chimera,” which likewise answers the hook of “Mountains of Stone” with one of its own, tapping into Southern metal riffing in a way Hollow Leg seem largely to hold at arm’s length, and making use of backing shouts to add flourish to the arrangement.

“Chimera” is perhaps meaner than “Mountains of Stone,” but similar in its overarching intent unto its last push, which cuts to silence quickly to let the initial feedback of “Akasha” take hold prior to unfolding a particularly satisfying nod in its early going while giving Lynch room for some exploration later on. Is it correspondingly parallel to “Dirt Womb?” Maybe. At very least it can be read that way, but it also has an ambience of its own as it comes apart at the end and closes with a brief swell of noise as a transition into the finale and longest track, “Exodus” — no less a purposeful title than was “Litmus.” At 7:54, “Exodus” is the longest song on Civilizations and showcases a longer-form of work that surfaced on Crown and here finds a balance with the more grounded structures. As Angelacos seems to be telling the story of leaving earth behind presumably after having fubar’ed it to such a degree, the swinging rhythm leads the way into a layered solo and a vague spoken part/sample that marks a final return to the chorus and an ending on guitar that answers not only that of “Litmus,” but “Akasha” as well.

And it’s not really until it’s over that one gets the sense of just how complete Civilizations is, how much it’s not just a collection of songs, but a purposeful, full-album execution. It may be the work Hollow Leg have been building toward, and it certainly sounds in the present like a culmination of their efforts, but hearing “Blue Moon” and the greater depths to their arrangements generally, there’s nothing to indicate in these tracks that the band will stagnate from here. They’ve worked on an every-three-years pace since 2010 — that is, albums in 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019 — so we’ll probably cross into the 2020s before hearing from them again, but even as Hollow Leg recount a troubled course of humanity, they give hope for the future of their own making.

Hollow Leg on Thee Facebooks

Hollow Leg on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

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Hollow Leg Set Jan. 25 Release Date for Civilizations; Preorders up Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg

The only reason I’m not listening to the new Hollow Leg album as I type this is because the internet connection I’m on is too shitty to stream or download the thing. It’s called Civilizations, it’s their fourth album, and as always, I’m looking forward to digging into it as soon as humanly possible. Or technologically possible. You know what I mean. I’ve got a tab open with the promo. It’s there, mocking me.

Civilizations of course follows on the heels of the special edition release of their Crown (review here) album that also included their Murder EP (review here) and thereby served as their debut on Argonauta Records. The new one, then, is their second through the Italian label, and they’ve already been playing new songs live, as on tour last month with Witchkiss. Seems only fair to expect more dates for early next year sometime near the release. These guys have never really been shy about getting out.

Here’s word from the PR wire about the album and the preorder link:

hollow leg civilizations

Hollow Leg – Civilizations – Jan. 25

Called an “enormously toned groove engine,” Hollow Leg’s train just keeps a’ rollin.’ Now on the eve of their fourth full-length release since 2010, the band is poised for national notoriety. Civilizations features nine tracks of sludge vitriol akin to Crowbar, Weedeater, and Eyehategod. The album will be available Jan 25th 2019 via Argonauta Records.

Hollow Leg is the sort of demented sludge behemoth that makes the faint of heart tremble and shake. Having emerged from the Florida swamps, this isn’t just another heavy band trying to suck at the teat of a bloated scene. Rather these Psycho Las Vegas veterans have made a name for themselves as weathered professionals, both on the road and in the studio. Blending American blues with English heavy metal, Hollow Leg have refined a sound that is colored with the influences of everyone from Janes Addiction and Faith No More to Eyehategod by way of Judas Priest.

Hollow Leg have been methodical in their tour approach and consistent with their recorded output. This January will see the release of Civilizations on Argonauta Records, the band’s fourth album in eight years and third studio release since 2016. The group recorded it all in their own studio and self produced, eventually being mixed and mastered by Kent Stump of Wo Fat. With huge ambitions and deep roots, Hollow Leg have found themselves playing multiple Maryland Doom Fests.

Cranking out crushing riffs left and right in the nations seedy dive bars as well as alongside titans like Amon Amarth and Enslaved, this band is a veritable train kept a’ rollin’. Unafraid to evolve, having even shifted from being a duo to a four piece, this is a group who constantly push for bigger and better things. Greater than the sum of their parts and constantly expanding their sound, Hollow Leg have the drive and ambition needed to become lords of the stoner metal underground.

Pre-order here: http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/en/home/306-hollow-leg-civilizations-lp-cd.html

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Hollow Leg, Murder EP (2017)

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Hollow Leg & Witchkiss Touring in October

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg

witchkiss

Last time I heard from Florida’s Hollow Leg, it was this Spring when they announced they’d begun work on their next record. I don’t know what their recording process is like off the top of my head, but I’m going to guess that the album is probably done. Since they’re teamed up with New York’s Witchkiss to tour their way out to Doomed and Stoned Fest in Indianapolis — where Hollow Leg are set to play Oct. 6 — and back eastward after, and since Witchkiss‘ 2018 album is called The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes, and since the tour is called “The Austere Civilizations Tour,” I’ll further guess that not only is the new Hollow Leg record done, but the title in some way involves the word “civilizations.” Maybe that’s all it’s called. I don’t know, folks, these are just guesses.

If you’re looking for harder news, well, there’s the tour dates for starters. They’re right here, as per the PR wire:

hollow leg witchkiss tour

HOLLOW LEG/WITCHKISS ANNOUNCE TOUR

HOLLOW LEG and WITCHKISS are pleased to announce that they will be teaming up for a short East/Mid-western tour of the United States this fall. The tour will also include a stop at the Doomed and Stoned festival in Indianapolis. (Hollow Leg only)

Hollow Leg commented “Hollow Leg are really looking forward to this upcoming run with our labelmates in Witchkiss as well as appearance at this year’s Doomed and Stoned fest! Cities like Chicago we’ve been looking to play for a while and our festival appearance is giving us a chance to get there this time around.”

Witchkiss further commented “We are super stoked to be doing this run with Hollow Leg in early October. Getting to play with our Argonauta labelmates who’s music we love in all of these new cities is a dream come true! We might even be playing a new song for y’all too!”

More information can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/295316921230835/

HOLLOW LEG/WITCHKISS AUSTERE CIVILIZATIONS TOUR DATES
Oct. 3rd – Athens, GA @ Caledonia Lounge
Oct. 4th – Memphis, TN @ Growler’s
Oct. 5th – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
Oct. 6th – Indianapolis, IN @ Doomed and Stoned Fest (HL only)
Oct. 6th Canton, OH @Buzzbin (Witchkiss only)
Oct. 7th – Charlottesville, VA @ Golden Pony
Oct. 8th – Baltimore, MD @ The Depot
Oct. 9th – Raleigh, NC @ Slim’s
Oct 12th- Richmond, VA @Wonderland (Witchkiss only)

https://www.facebook.com/hollowlegfl
https://hollowleg666.bandcamp.com/

http://facebook.com/witchkissband
https://witchkiss.bandcamp.com/

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Hollow Leg, Murder (2017)

Witchkiss, The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes (2018)

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Hollow Leg Begin Work on New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Nothing here but good news. New Hollow Leg in the works? Band feeling cool about expanding their sound a little bit, trying some new things and experimenting with new elements in their songwriting? Preproduction done and recording getting started. Fucking a all around. Hollow Leg‘s recent efforts, last year’s Murder EP (review here) and 2016’s third long-player Crown (review here), both showed that sonic expansion in process from their earlier works, and it’s encouraging to see the band is conscious of that and looking to continue moving forward. I’ve been and remain a fan of their work, so to know there’s more of it coming — yeah, that’s a win.

I’m assuming the release will be through Argonauta Records, like the EP and last album. They don’t mention it either way, but I’ll keep an eye out for confirmation one way or the other. When I know, you’ll know.

Until then, here’s the latest from the PR wire:

hollow leg

Hollow Leg announces return to studio

Florida metal quartet Hollow Leg announces their return to their own recording studio, Hi Five Audio, to begin work on their fourth full-length release. Drum tracking commenced on April 7th with vocalist Scott Angelacos and Jeff Mcalear at the helm of engineering and production.

The band commented on their new music and recording method:
The writing and preproduction process has been really fun and efficient. The material is definitely still “Hollow Leg,” but we’re trying to throw something fresh in there also. In general, we feel we’re making better use of having our own studio space and really nailing down songs and sounds in preproduction so we’re more focus. We’re heading back to Hi Five Audio (our home away from home in DeLand, Florida) for production with our heads up, guts sucked in, and chests puffed out, feeling good about our aim and ready to rock this.

The band expects to release this album in late 2018. Their blend of American blues and English metal conjures the likes of Sabbath, Eyehategod, Weedeater, and even Judas Priest. Stay tuned for more information in the coming months.

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Hollow Leg, Murder EP (2017)

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Hollow Leg to Release Crown: Murder Edition for June Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

hollow-leg-Photo-Pamela-Bendezu

What’s that you say? You’re pretty sure I’ve already posted these Hollow Leg tour dates for their June run up the East Coast that includes a stop at Maryland Doom Fest at Cafe 611 in Frederick on June 24, where they’ll share the stage with BangWo FatEarthrideSerpents of SecrecyThe WatchersHeavy TempleKing BisonThe WellWitches of GodBlack Tap Prophet and Conclave? Oh, most definitely.

Why do so again? Because Hollow Leg are frickin’ awesome live and they it’s not like they spend seven months out of the year on the road, so if you get the chance to see them, you should do so. They’ll be bringing a new Argonauta Records reissue of their 2016 album, Crown (review here), with them that includes the 2017 Murder EP (review here) as bonus material — as well as tapes of the EP pressed by Southern Druid Records and some snazzy-looking new shirts for the merch table — and even if you’re not in their path this time around, you can preorder that release now from Argonauta ahead of its official arrival on June 30.

Info (and dates!) follow here, as culled from the wilds of social media:

hollow leg june tour

Hollow Leg – Crown: Murder Edition & June Tour

In addition to CD reissue of CROWN with Murder EP as bonus tracks, our friends at Southern Druid have been so good to release the Murder EP in cassette format…purple tinted tapes look super cool! And we will have these in addition to the “Murder edition” Crown CDs next month on our run up and down the coast and return stop at Maryland Doom fest.

3 weeks til we pack up for our first piece of touring in the last year, 4 weeks til we breach Winston-Salem for the first time, can’t wait to get back out, see all your beautiful faces, and consequently melt them.

HOLLOW LEG Northeast Migration tour:
06/17 Jacksonville FL Nighthawks
06/19 Atlanta GA 529
06/20 Raleigh NC Slim’s
06/21 Richmond VA 25 Watt
06/22 Boston MA O’Brien’s
06/23 New London CT 33 Golden Street
06/24 Frederick MD Maryland Doom Fest Cafe 611
06/25 Winston-Salem NC The Test Pattern
08/18 Las Vegas NV Psycho Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

https://www.facebook.com/events/257151751359592
https://www.facebook.com/hollowlegfl/
https://twitter.com/hollowlegfl
http://hollowleg666.bandcamp.com/
http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/music-/209-hollow-leg-crown-murder-edition-cd.html
http://southerndruidrecords.storenvy.com/products/20174882-hollow-leg-murder-ep

Hollow Leg, “Raven” official video

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Hollow Leg Post “Raven” Video; East Coast Tour in June

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg

Floridian sludge metallers Hollow Leg will make a return to the Maryland Doom Fest in June at Cafe 611 in Frederick, Maryland. If you weren’t there to see it, they pretty much slaughtered the place last year (review here), playing in support of their recently-issued third long-player and debut for Argonauta RecordsCrown (review here). This year, they’ll be heralding the two-songer Murder EP (review here), on which they continue to make the difficult sound easy with their blend of catchy hooks and abrasive sludge overtones. They also have a new video for “Raven” that I think makes that point pretty well.

They’re not the first to write a hook and make it hit hard, but what Hollow Leg do so fluidly is sound completely unhinged while still relying on what are basically straightforward verse/chorus traditions. That’s not at all a small accomplishment, but if you listen to “Raven,” you’ll hear that along with the rasp of vocalist Scott Angelacos, the dense tonality of guitarist/vocalist Brent Lynch and bassist Tom Crowther, and the fluid roll from newly-acquired drummer John Stewart, there’s a firm structural foundation underlying what they’re doing, so that by the time you’re listening to the song twice through, it’s already familiar, already stuck in your head in a way that a lot of sludge simply becomes a wash of screamy disaffection and nod. In a word: they’re songwriters.

And as the video shows, they’re not short on charm either. What they call an “in-studio footage video” for “Raven” has a bit of that, but it also features plenty of shots of them doing other stuff, including what looks like shopping for lawn ornaments at some outdoor market and/or swap meet? Legitimately something I’ve never seen in a rock video before, in any case. At one point they find some pretty rad looking carved-wood furniture (that shit is expensive) and have a seat, but yeah, on the whole it’s one more way in which Hollow Leg manage to surprise while still conveying a sense of madness with their approach on the whole.

You can find the “Raven” video below, followed by the East Coast tour dates surrounding Maryland Doom Fest for June. Also of note, of course, is the slot in August they’ve got booked at Psycho Las Vegas. To my knowledge, that’s probably the biggest show they’ve ever played, and good on them for landing it.

Enjoy:

Hollow Leg, “Raven” official video

HOLLOW LEG Northeast Migration tour:
06/17 Jacksonville FL Nighthawks
06/19 Atlanta GA 529
06/20 Raleigh NC Slim’s
06/21 Richmond VA 25 Watt
06/22 Boston MA O’Brien’s
06/23 New London CT 33 Golden Street
06/24 Frederick MD Maryland Doom Fest Cafe 611
06/25 Winston-Salem NC The Test Pattern
08/18 Las Vegas NV Psycho Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Hollow Leg on Thee Facebooks

Hollow Leg on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

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Hollow Leg, Murder EP: Dark Skies Ahead (Plus Track Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg murder

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Raven’ from Hollow Leg’s new EP, Murder. Release is March 3 via Argonauta Records.]

About three years ago, Floridian sludge metallers Hollow Leg issued a single called “God Eater” (posted here). It was a one-off, kind of something to hold over between 2013’s Abysmal (review here) and Crown (review here), which would eventually arrive in 2016. And it was only ever a single-song digital-only deal, but it showed a marked shift in approach on the part of the band, backing off on some of their earlier rawness in favor of glimpsing melody and Southern metal groove. That song has stayed with me to some degree since 2014, and I only bring it up because it was the last time the Jacksonville four-piece had a short release out, so naturally, going into their new Argonauta Records two-songer, Murder — positioned as an EP rather than a single; fair since I don’t know if it’d fit on a 7″ for runtime — I couldn’t help but wonder in what ways they’d try to build on what Crown accomplished.

And to that — Crown accomplished plenty. Hollow Leg have always had a root in sludge metal, and the aggression in vocalist Scott Angelacos‘ roar will remain a defining aspect to anyone who takes on the Murder EP, but their last album opened new doors of their creative development and the band stormed through them with their usual brash plunder. Plenty about it was familiar going back to their 2010 debut, Instinct, but Angelacos, guitarist/vocalist Brent Lynch, bassist Tom Crowther and drummer Tim Creter were very obviously working to push themselves forward in their sound as well.

Fortunately, Murder continues this process. It also marks a personnel shift, bringing in drummer John Stewart, also of Orlando’s Caribou King, in place of Creter. That in itself could be enough justification for the release — Creter was a founding member, so it could be that Hollow Leg were looking to try out the new lineup in the studio and are happy enough with the results to make them public — but either way, Stewart fits well in the role and his arrival does nothing audible to hold up the stylistic progression within Hollow Leg, who between the two tracks “Murder” (7:25) and “Raven” (5:33) showcase continued instrumental growth. The opener begins at a shuffle that seems to be in direct conversation with “Electric Veil” from Crown, more upbeat than one has necessarily come to expect from Hollow Leg, but still fluid in its groove and molasses-thick in tone.

hollow leg

At about the halfway point, they turn the tempo somewhat on its head and ride out the nod, but in Lynch‘s riff early and Crowther‘s accompanying bass — which gets a particular moment to shine just before five minutes in — there’s a feeling of departure similar to what “Electric Veil” brought to the full-length, as though somebody in the band had been listening to Uncle Acid and sought to bring some of that garage-style boogiecraft into the context of what Hollow Leg does. On paper, it shouldn’t work. The reality of “Murder,” on the other hand, is a satisfying push of sludge that expands the dimensions of Hollow Leg‘s comfort zone to include another aspect of stylistic nuance. They finish by bringing back a heavy rock thrust, crashing out and letting the amp-rumble take them into “Raven,” which begins with Stewart‘s drums at an immediate strut.

Quick pause and they’re into the first verse of “Raven” — full blast in terms of tone, growl, crash and riff. The second cut on Murder feels a little more like the core Hollow Leg have developed and built on, but however they go, they go angry. Angelacos‘ unwavering gutturalism arrives in layers for the chorus (unless that’s Lynch backing him, which is possible), and the roll of the guitar, bass and drums behind him makes the song seem even shorter than its under-six-minute run actually is. Another shift takes place about halfway in, moving to chugging met with tom hits and a punctuating snare, eventually crashing in rhythm behind the vocals before returning to build yet more tension for the next round, from which they open up to a guitar lead and then chug their way out to finish, a kind of back and forth play working its way through efficiently measure by measure.

They’re not inexperienced with this sort of fare, but the clarity of purpose behind “Raven” and its subtle catchiness are further emblematic of just how tight Hollow Leg have become at this approach and how much they’ve made their sound their own over the course of this decade. That’s the main lesson their Murder EP (you’ll note the crows circling on the cover art): that even with the lineup change, they’re still very much able to bring together an offering that moves them stylistically forward from where they were even just a year ago while also reaffirming the underlying pissed-off sludge that’s been their righteous cause since they got going. Murder might be Hollow Leg testing the ground for a new lineup, and it might be an outlet for a studio experiment, but with the songwriting tenets they’ve developed over time, there was ultimately little chance it wasn’t going to work — and so it does.

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Hollow Leg, Crown: Serpentine (Plus Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 3rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg crown

[Click play above to stream Hollow Leg’s Crown in full. Album is out March 4 (that’s tomorrow) on Argonauta Records.]

Floridian sludgers Hollow Leg return with an awaited third full-length, Crown. Issued via Argonauta Records as the follow-up to 2013’s Abysmal (review here), the album isn’t actually late in arriving — it was three years between the band’s 2010 debut, Instinct, and Abysmal as well — but two years ago, the four-piece offered up the digital single God Eater (posted here), and with it they teased a shift in approach toward more rocking, less overwhelmingly aggressive fare. The central question going into Crown, then, is how that pans out, and it’s been an answer two years in coming.

The seven-track/44-minute Crown is indeed a forward step from where Hollow Leg were three years ago, and while it still brims with thickened intensity and is still definitively sludge, it also showcases a more individualized approach from the band. That’s not as much fun as “it’s as heavy as the balls of a ten-ton swamp elephant” or whatever other testicular hyperbole you might see about it, but it’s more admirable. Any group can be heavy. What Hollow Leg — the lineup of vocalist Scott Angelacos, guitarist/vocalist Brent Lynch, bassist Tom Crowther and drummer Tim Creter — have crafted on their third full-length is a cohesive sound that is decidedly their own, that works on a serpent-minded theme befitting its cover art, that expands further stylistically as it goes and that, yes indeed, is quite heavy. They’ve always had more going for them than the average why-were-we-pissed-off-again sludge band, and Crown affirms their place ahead of the genre pack in complexity and conceptual depth.

Opener “Seaquake” sets a high standard for both riffs and the apparent narrative thread running across the tracks. Underwater seismic activity is a hell of a place to start, in other words, but Hollow Leg unfurl the first of many lumbering progressions to come as “Seaquake” and the subsequent, more Southernly riffed “Coils,” comprise an opening duo introducing the mood and breadth of much of the record — the overarching vibe of patiently delivered heft that will factor into even Crown‘s most raging moments, as on the initial stretch of “Serpent in the Ice” to come. They toy some with pace between “Seaquake” and “Coils” as Angelacos brings us into the band’s world of snakes and other shouted who-knows-what, but it’s with “Electric Veil” that the band begins to depart from the more straightforward roll of both the opening cuts, starting out quiet and creeping before kicking into full-tone and familiar burl and playing fluidly with a back and forth across the song’s 6:49.

hollow leg

Lynch takes a noisy solo in the second half over a beat-down roll that gives way to a surprising bit of well-now-that-we’ve-done-that-here’s-this shuffle at the end. Not exactly out of nowhere or out of context, but still unexpected, and a quick highlight to the fuzzier tones in the guitar and bass used this time around as compared to Abysmal. It’s not necessarily a huge leap, as though to make one believe it’s a different outfit, but it’s enough to distinguish Crown from Hollow Leg‘s past work, and that only becomes more apparent as the centerpiece interlude “Atra” takes hold with a kind of mini-“Planet Caravan” vibe, marked out by quiet background percussion and didgeridoo, acoustic guitar leading with a meditative figure that builds some tension across its truncated course, but does much atmospherically to enhance the proceedings overall.

To put that into perspective, Abysmal also had an interlude near its middle, but it was much less a departure, and the material around it — though the album was shorter on the whole than is Crown — was far less expansive, whether that’s “Electric Veil” before, which nods a bit at earliest Clutch in its underlying swing, or the nine-minute “Serpent in the Ice” after, which is Crown‘s itself-ing achievement for how it pulls together a coherent motion through big tempo changes and stomping punctuation. The early going, fast, the later reaches, slow and doomed, it’s an engaging summary of Hollow Leg‘s efforts toward a richer sound — one which I’ll gladly argue they attain throughout. A noisy guitar finish for “Serpent in the Ice” is followed by the quiet beginning of “Seven Heads,” shorter at seven minutes but still longer than any of the first four tracks on the record, and more patient in its chug, topped by echoing gutturalisms, as it rides its central groove for the duration; an exercise in nod given further breadth by a spacious lead after the halfway point.

Its amp noise hums — not screeches, hums — on a quiet fade into closer “New Cult,” which crashes in to roll its own molten motion, the lyrics having presumably arrived as their resolution in some serpentine demagoguery. The finale breaks about midway through and Creter‘s snare and Lynch‘s fuzz build back into the riff that will serve as their leadout over “New Cult”‘s final minutes, but the hook of the closer is delivered again and proves deceptively memorable on repeat visits. Angelacos joins Lynch‘s last, somewhat more extended solo, but it does wind up being the guitar that finishes out, on a last, suitably ambient fade that once again speaks to an increased focus on setting a mood as much as bludgeoning with heft. Throughout Crown, that at least partial shift serves the band remarkably well, and demonstrates a genuine creative growth outward from their beginnings more than half a decade ago without sacrificing the edge that has given their work to-date such impact. Also it’s very, very heavy.

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