Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
My reverent infatuation with Florida‘s metallic sludge mongers HOLLOW LEG has been firmly riveted into place for nearly a full decade now, after discovering them by way of the 2010 release ‘Instinct‘.
Always a sucker for boggy, sonic heaviness, aggressive vocals, and textural musicality with both layers and depth, HOLLOW LEG repeatedly delivered the goods on other releases that followed, ones like ‘Abysmal‘ and ‘Crown‘. In 2016, I was able to finally see the band live at that year’s Maryland Doom Fest (and again at 2017’s MD Doom Fest), an experience that further cemented my adulation and appreciation for them.
Yet, despite a string of exceptional album releases and limited live exposure, HOLLOW LEG remained a cult-like figure for many, some fable shrouded in mystery and seemingly outside the grasp of most. Now 2019 has arrived, of course, and less than a month into it, HOLLOW LEG is back with an all-new album ‘Civilizations‘, released on January 25th via Argonauta Records.
For this outing, the quartet – vocalist Scott Angelacos, guitarist and vocalist Brent Lynch, bassist Tom Crowther, and drummer John Stewart – self-produced the album and recorded everything in their own studio, before turning things over to Kent Stump (of Wo Fat) for mixing and mastering at Crystal Clear Sound.
I would be negligent if I failed to mention what dominating mastery of the universal groove HOLLOW LEG wields and exudes. This has always been so, a factor that certainly drew me to the band at their start, and it remains perfected and prevalent right up to this instant. No one comes close to either creating, let alone utilizing, said groovability to the successfully furrowed extent that The Sunshine State’s rowdiest, rut-rife renderers do.
And believe you me, they do so here mercilessly and without restraint, starting at the very start, opening gouge, “Litmus“. With a brief bit of drums and feedback to announce it, the song then lurches forward upon the precise path planned, guided by chiseling riffs and plowing rhythms. Gruff vocals soon get introduced, while injections from the drum kit pierce the ether, revealing yet another aspect this act excels at, instilling their music with atmospheric strengths.
That latter quality is another fine facet of the HOLLOW LEG aural ferocity, using obverse elements in their compositions to either counteract or complement what is taking place. Songs like “Mountains Of Stone“, “Akasha“, or “Exodus” are good examples of the first, each displaying the band’s using airier touches to balance out the rousing weightiness within a song.
As for the latter, the symbiotic side of the equation, or complimenting what is being produced in the music, the haunting “Black Moon” is a good representation. Brief and somewhat stripped down, using bare minimums to render still yet astounding output, the song’s ambient nature is augmented with a quality vocal approach. If an emotional reaction is the desired result, then this is what success sounds like… but not just it alone.
There are monumentally significant stand-outs to still yet speak about, beginning with what “Black Moon” primed us for, “Hunter And The Hunted“. We quickly awaken in its hazy confines before the snare is loosed upon us with leviathan size riffs, followed shortly by battering drum strikes entering the fray. A quick acceleration in timing and tempos gets us to a place where things feel like musical peaks and valleys, or climbs and descents that pull the listener right along for the ride.
That one-two punch of back-to-back songs working in unison together is repeated again with the appropriately titled “Intro” and its tag-along “Chimera“. With sparse vocals, the almost instrumental “Intro” is a semi-ethereal piece that acts as an evocation to summon the fabricated beast that follows it. With an abundance of the grandiose groovery I spoke about earlier, “Chimera” is the figuratively mythical melding of deep, deep channels of exactly that. The song is able to swallow you up in the sum of its parts, locking you down just as easily as the band locks down lacerating guitars and vitriolic vocals in this allegorical ode.
Take my words here however you choose, be it symbolically, metaphorically, emblematically, or whatever other way suits you, as long as their point is firm and understood. That point being, of course, that the new HOLLOW LEG album, the Argonauta Records offered ‘Civilizations‘, is indeed advanced and quite culturally significant. Within the nine songs upon it, we find immense assimilation of savagery, absorbed, and then transmuted into sonics that provides the optimum listening experience for humanity.