California guitarist, vocalist, and composer Hailey Woodruff really shows plenty of promise here on her self-titled debut, writing all the songs, playing all the instruments (save for some cello on one track) and providing all the vocals. And, when you can execute it all as expertly as she has here, why the hell not? Hailey lists influences like Mudvayne, Tool, Soilwork, Nine Inch Nails, Periphery, Red, and Meshuggah, but don't let that throw you off, as this is a pretty fresh sounding release that's not at all derivative of those acts.
First of all, she's got a damn good voice, one that's not too far removed from Amy Lee of Evanescene or ex-The Gathering vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen, except with more 'balls' for lack of a better term. She shows her mettle on the two heavy rocking opening cuts "Solace in a Nightmare" and "Cognizance", both featuring crunchy guitar riffs, soaring vocals, and catchy melodies. And yes, the girl can shred, so look for some fabulous lead guitar work on these two rippers as well. "Only One" has some prog-rock tendencies, thanks to intricate guitar & bass passages, and "Confession" also pushes the prog boundaries with alluring arrangements and Woodruff's tender vocal harmonies. To show she can also deliver a tender ballad, look no further than "Black & Red" and "Floor of Deepest Walls", but it's apparent Hailey likes to rock, which she certainly does on the crushing "Delinquent", easily the heaviest song on the album. The ability to create varied, flowing arrangements can be heard on the progressive metal attack of "Virus", a direction I'd love to see her go more towards in the future.
Great vocals, great guitar work, and intelligent, well crafted songs...it's a winning formula all around. Whether Hailey Woodruff decides to go in the direction of a powerful symphonic metal diva (that voice can certainly carry her if she wanted to), or a guitar slinging progressive metal savior, she's got the chops to do it all. I'd love to see her fronting a full band, singing, playing lead guitar, and writing all the tunes, regardless of what style she eventually commits to. Certainly someone to keep your eyes on, as I think we will be hearing much more from her in the very near future.
1) Solace in a Nightmare
3) Only One
4) Black & Red
9) Floor of Deepest Walls