American Hollow created a chilling, cohesive statement with its debut, Whisper Campaign, last year. Although a bit heavy-handed with influences, it nonetheless showed promise. Now, they’ve returned with a new release, Screaming into the Void, and with its political overtones and emphasis on songwriting, complexity, and mood, the group is definitely coming into its own. It’s an outstanding experience.
The album opens with an apocalyptic prelude, “Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter.” A lone guitar lines soars as piano notes and heavy riffs are played sparingly. It segues well into “Last Dream Before Dawn,” which flows like silk thanks to its radiant guitar arpeggios, dreamy sound effects, and melodic prowess. The duality of male and female vocals helps add extra color, and there’s an overall sense of impending dread (even though it’s not a depressing track). The song ends with an alarm clock and a news reporter discussing anarchy, which is a nice way to imply theme.
“Say, Is it Really True?” is a more direct ballad. It builds confidently from a lone acoustic guitar to include keyboards, percussion, and some very fancy guitar work. Singer Jameson harmonies well with himself; he sounds appropriately impassioned about revolution. The track ends with a complex jam held together by exceptional bass playing. “Mandragora Mechanism” features a brief clip of an enraged citizen screaming about terrorism, the greed of banks, and the fear of survival over some atmospheric melancholy. It’s actually quite disturbing and effective.
The album concludes with a three-part piece, “Bonfire of Myth.” “Prophecy” is essentially a poetic narrative placed over earthly sounds and post-rock crescendos that build as the monologue concludes. It’s a bit reminiscent of the classic Moody Blues albums and the opening of Procol Harum’s “In Held ‘Twas I.” The centerpiece, “Tableau,” is the album’s most progressive and varied work. It blends elements of Tool, Mastodon, and Porcupine Tree into a wonderful exploration of emotions, rhythms, and dynamics. Heavy dissonance and virtuosity give way to folksy calmness as acoustic guitars blend with pianos near the end. It’s a captivating epic. Finally, another prophetic narration closes the record.
Screaming into the Void feels like a grand stepping stone in the career of a band with insuperable ambition. Fortunately, they have the skills to back it up, as well as a keen awareness of how to blend inspiration with originality. It’s a short but sweet sampling of how the band has grown since their debut, and it makes their next album highly anticipated. Don’t let this one pass you by in the meantime.
Be sure to check out this video preview for the album!