Originally written by Chris Redar
Hollow Earth comes with a bit of a pedigree, boasting former Shai Hulud members Steve Muczynski and Mike Moynihan (the latter also being a current member of Enabler, a band garnering a fair amount of attention recently). As such, it becomes somewhat difficult to not judge a band’s current ouput objectively without drawing comparison points to other projects the members are, or were, involved in.
Luckily for the sake of this review, these ears have never laid aural gaze to Shai Hulud, and shall continue to do so until after this is published. You know, for the sake of “journalistic integrity” or some such nonsense. Here’s what they do know: Hollow Earth has created a genre record in Silent Graves—metallic hardcore in the tradition of artists such as Nora and The Hope Conspiracy. Now, a genre record isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case, as we’ll discuss, but the appeal won’t be digging too far underground. This is an album based around a certain set of feelings that will draw in a somewhat wide and somewhat youthful audience.
This being the case, a fair deal of the instrumentation is simply a conduit for Muszynski’s concentrated monotone hollering. With a couple of exceptions, the riffs and percussion, while executed with precision and a good deal of intensity, are straight out of the metalcore playbook. A DUN-DUN-DUNDUN here, a D-beat followed some sludgy 4/4 there—metallic hardcore is rarely about any kind of technical prowess. If anything, Hollow Earth manages to sound a bit more primitive than some of their contemporaries in spite of the quite large-sounding drums on the album. “The Reclamation” varies things ever so slightly to kick the proceedings off with a stuttered pattern and some engaging tom work, but that’s about it.
As a matter of fact, the album shifts from “metallic hardcore” to almost exclusively “metal” following the instrumental interlude that splits the album (the gorgeous violin-tinged “The Funeral of All”). The change in tone, both musically and in overall mood, makes Hollow Earth sound downright savage. Whereas the first portion is an enjoyable (if not a little too predictable) romp, the second half stands out as a real set of killer material. “World To Come” lifts juuust a letter or two from Slayer’s riffbook initially before delving into murkier, almost doom-y territory. It’s not anything revolutionary, but it certainly gets its point across.
“It’s not anything revolutionary” could pretty much sum up Silent Graves, but that would be discounting what ends up being a solid outing from what could turn out to be a solid band. The thrills are all at once expected, cheap, and satisfying, and the only glaring weakness comes in the predictable nature of the material—and even that could be viewed as a strong suit if one was in the mood for some good ol’ fashioned metalcore. This bastard says give it a go.