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.
Check out the video for State of Decay