American Hollow: Whisper Campaign
American Hollow are a Kentucky band that formed in 2001. Although the band have taken a while to release their debut album Whisper Campaign the wait has been well worthwhile as this is an excellent album. The band is hard to fit into one specific genre as I hear atmospheric progressive rock and metal, alternative metal and hard rock. The players are Jameson (vocals), Kyle Mullikin (guitar), Nathan Alan Gilbert (bass) and Chronos (drums).
Since the band does not conform to any one style you can be sure boredom will not set in. The songs are atmospheric, created mostly by introspective guitar flavourings that can be both subtle and intense and while many of these songs have heavy metallic riffs, there are softer sections of pure beauty cropping up throughout the CD. Well placed keyboards are used in a subtle way making them very effective when they do crop up. This is heady stuff and not your typical metal release. Comparisons could be made to bands like Tool, Soundgarden and even Pearl Jam, although American Hollow is more adventurous than that band. At times Jameson's vocals do bare a resemblance to Eddie Vedder although in no way are they a carbon copy.
Complementing the music are the band's thought provoking lyrics. Their societal and political commentaries are insightful – who says metal is only about sex and drugs. The phrase: "thinking man's metal", rings loud and clear.
"Terronoia" begins the CD with the sampled voice "Good evening my fellow Americans" before slow marching drums and spacious atmospheric guitar slowly unfold. The song builds in intensity as the riffs get more distorted and the drums more powerful before ending with introspective guitar work over wind-like sound effects. The alternative hard rock of "State of Decay" opens with tasty guitar and blasts of cool synths before grungy guitar riffs take hold. The song hits the proverbial nail on the head warning us not to become too comfortable in our complacency as Jameson implores "Take a look, read a book, notice what's around you. Form a thought, ask a question for the day is night. Wake yourself, be aware, consider this your warning."
The adventuresome "Operator", although the album's shortest song, is no less interesting starting with atmospheric pings of guitar and eerie synth sounds leading to unusual vocalizations intertwining with shards of electric guitar. This is progressive music in the truest sense of the word. The Tool inspired "Illumineye" is another progressive outing where Chronos's drum work really shines and the thirteen minute epic "Prizards" is worth the price of the CD alone where atmospheric riffage slowly burn through Tool-like soundscapes of complex drum patterns and timely synths.
American Hollow have really set the bar high with Whisper Campaign. The fact this is an independent release is all the more inspiring. Record companies – please take notice as American Hollow could be on to something big.
2. State Of Decay
9. Blow Wind! Bring Forth Storm
Added: January 11th 2011
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
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|American Hollow: Whisper Campaign
Posted by Jordan Blum, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-01-11 20:05:40
Whisper Campaign, the debut LP by American Hollow, flows like a prog metal suite. Full of segues and a consistent coating of melancholy and chilling atmosphere, it grips you from the start and never looses appeal. While the influences are a bit too clear, the synthesis is commendable.
American Hollow formed a decade ago in Kentucky and gained significant attention for their energetic live sets. In 2008, vocalist Jameson joined, and the band fleshed out their sound. Whisper Campaign is full of spiraling rhythms, restrained but affective production and the passion of strong friendships and shared musical visions.
The album opens with "Terronoia," an instrumental consisting of marching drums, sustained guitar feedback, arpeggios and some keyboard touches. It invokes a feeling of dread instantly and definitely borrows from the post-rock landscape. It would also fit perfectly on an Agalloch album. The guitar styles of Tool are replicated as the track leads into "State of Decay," which incorporates the mellow/heavy balance of Fates Warning. Jameson also sounds a bit like Danny Elfman, which is an interesting texture for the music.
"Operator" allows more space in music, and Jameson belts out almost as many vocables as actual words, stretching his range like Daniel Gildenlöw. Its second part, "Variable," is a seamless continuation, and it builds to an awesome jam by the end. "Gravity" balances lower and higher harmonies like System of a Down, concentrating on some interesting overlaps and dissonant yet beautiful guitar timbres. Finally, with some fairly tricky rhythms and counterpoint during the middle, "Prizards" is the most complicated track on Whisper Campaign.
The album closes with "Terrannoyed," which reinterprets elements of the opening track while introducing new ones, bringing a fantastic sense of cohesion and unity to the record as a whole. By the end, Whisper Campaign feels more like an experience than just a bunch of songs, which illustrates just how much attention to detail and perfection they put into the album. It's not wholly original (very little is these days), but it fulfills the ambition to be more than just a collection of songs. American Hollow has their work cut out for them if they plan on topping this debut.
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